Page images
PDF
EPUB

1714. The young gentleman having been played the extraordinary talent of being true educated among the muses abroad, testifies to nature, even in the representation of im. a decided aversion to the gainful vocations in possible persons. which his father had determined that he The serious interest of the work rests on should assist aud succeed him ;-and as a Diana Vernon and on Rob Roy: the comic punishment for this contumacy, he banishes effect is left chiefly to the ministrations of him for a season to the Siberia of Osbaldistorie Baillie Nicol Jarvie and Andrew Fairservice, Hall, from which he himself had been es with the occasional assistance of less regular tranged ever since his infancy. The young performers. Diana is, in our apprehension, a exile jogs down on horseback rather merrily, very bright and felicitous creation—though it riding part of the way with a stout man, who is certain that there never could have been was scandalously afraid of being robbed, and any such person. A girl of eighteen, not meeting once with a sturdy Scotchman, whose only with more wit and learning than any resolute air and energetic discourses make a man of forty, but with more sound sense, deep impression on him.-As he approaches and firmness of character, than any man the home of his fathers, he is surrounded by whatever - and with perfect frankness and a party of fox hunters, and at the same mo- elegance of manners, though bred among ment electrified by the sudden apparition of boors and bigots—is rather a more violent a beautiful young woman, galloping lightly fiction, we think, than a king with marble at the head of the field, and managing her legs, or a youth with an ivory shoulder. In sable palfrey with all the grace of an Angelica. spite of all this, however, this particular fic

Making up to this etherial personage, he tion is extremely elegant and impressive; soon discovers that he is in the heart of his and so many features of truth are blended kinsfolks—that the tall youths about him are with it, that we soon forget the impossibility, the five sons of Sir Hildebrand; and the virgin and are at least as much interested as by a huntress herself, a cousin and inmate of the more conceivable personage. The combinafamily, by the name of Diana Vernon. She tion of fearlessness with perfect purity and is a very remarkable person this same Diana. delicaey, as well as that of the inextinguishThough only eighteen years of age, and ex- able gaiety of youth with sad anticipations quisitely lovely, she knows all arts and sci- and present suffering, are all strictly natural, ences, elegant and inelegant-and has, more- and are among the traits that are wrought out over, a more than masculine resolution, and in this portrait with the greatest talent and more than feminine kindness and generosity effect. In the deep tone of feeling, and the of character-wearing over all this a playful, capacity of heroic purposes, this heroine bears free, and reckless manner, more characteristic a family likeness to ihe Flora of Waverley; of her age than her various and inconsistent but her greater youth, and her unprotected accomplishments. The rest of the household situation, add prodigiously to the interest of are comely savages; who hunt all day, and these qualities. Andrew Fairservice is a new, drink all night, without one idea beyond those and a less interesting incarnation of Cuddie heroic occupations—all

, at least, except Rash- Headrigg; with a double allowance of selfishleigh, the youngest son of this hopeful family ness, and a top-dressing of pedantry and con-who, having been designed for the church, ceit-constituting a very admirable and just and educated among the Jesuits beyond seas, representation of the least amiable of our had there acquired all the knowledge and the Scottish vulgar. The Baillie, we think, is an knavery which that pious brotherhood was so original. It once occurred to us, that he long supposed to impart to their disciples.- might be described as a mercantile and townAlthough very plain in his person, and very ish Dandie Dinmont; but the points of resemdepraved in his character, he has great talents blance are really fewer than those of contrast. and accomplishments, and a very insinuating He is an inimitable picture of an acute, sagaaddress. He had been, in a good degree, the cious, upright, and kind man, thoroughly low instructor of Diana, who, we should have bred, and beset with all sorts of vulgarities. mentioned, was also a Catholic, and having Both' he and Andrew are rich mines of the lost her parents, was destined to take the veil true Scottish language; and afford, in the in a foreign land, if she did not consent to hands of this singular writer, not only an admarry one of the sons of Sir Hildebrand, for ditional proof of his perfect familiarity with all of whom she cherished the greatest aver- all its dialects, but also of its extraordinary sion and contempt.

copiousness, and capacity of adaptation to all Mr. Obaldistone, of course, can do nothing tones and subjects. The reader may take a but fall in love with this wonderful infant; brief specimen of Andrew's elocution in the for which, and some other transgressions, he following characteristic account of the purincurs the deadly, though concealed, hate of gation of the Cathedral Church of Glasgow, Rashleigh, and meets with several unpleasant and its consequent preservation from the adventures through his means. But we will hands of our Gothic reformers. not be tempted even to abridge the details of "Ah! it's a brave kirk-nane o yere whigo a story with which we cannot allow oureelves maleeries and curlie.wurlies and open-steek hems to doubt that all our readers have long been about it—a solid, weel-jointed mason-wark, that familiar: and indeed it is not in his story that will stand as long as the warld, keep hands and this author's strength ever lies; and here he gunpowther affil. It had amaist a doun-come lang has lost sight of probability even in the con- kirks of St. Andrews and Perth, and thereawa,

syne at the Reformation, when they pu'd doun the ception of some of his characters; and dis- 1 to cleanse them o' Papery, and idolatry, and image

worship, add surplices, and sic like rags o'the' as they had done elsewhere. It was na for luve muckle hoor that silieth on seven hills, as if ane o' Paparie-na, na !--nane could ever say that o' was na braid aneugh for her auld hinder end. Sae the trades o’ Glasgow-Sae they sune cam to an the commons o’ Renfrew, and o' the Barony, and agreenient to take a' the idolatrous statutes of sants the Gorbals, and a' about, they behooved to come (sorrow be on them) out o' their neuks - And into Glasgow ae fair morning io try their hand on sae the bits o' stane idols were broken in pieces by purging the High Kirk o' Popish nick-nackeis. Scripture warrant, and flung into the Molendinar But the townsmen o' Glasgow, they were feared Burn, and the auld kirk stood as crouse as a cat their auld edifice might slip the girths in gaun when the fleas are caimed aff her, and a body was through siccan rough physíc, sae they rang the alike pleased. And I hae heard wise folk say, common bell, and assembled the train bands wi' that if the same had been done in ilka kirk in Scoi. took o' drum-By good luck, the worthy, James land, the Reform wad just hae been as pure as it Rabat was Dean o' Guild that year— (and a gude is een now, and we wad had mair Christian-like mason he was himsell, made him the keener to kirks; for I hae been sae lang in England, that keep up the auld bigging), and the trades assein- naething will drive it out o' my head, that the dog. bled, and offered downright battle to the com- kennell ai Osbaldistone-Hall is better than mony mons, rai her than their kirk should coup the crans, a house o' God in Scotland.'

(Ianuary, 1820.) 1. Ivanhoe. A Romance. By the Author of Waverley, &c. 3 vols. Edinburgh, Constable & Co. 2. 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 own satisfaction, that heaven know's how thirty-eight plays in the brief space of his many of these busy bodies have been beforeearly manhood-besides acting in them, and hand with us, both in the genus

and the species drinking and living idly with the other actors of our invention ! —and then went carelessly to the country, The author before us is certainly in less and lived out his days, a little more idly, and danger from such detections, than any other apparently unconscious of having done any we have ever met with ; but, even in him, the thing at all extraordinary—there has been no traces of imitation are obvious and abundant; such prodigy of fertility as the anonymous and it is impossible, therefore, to give him the author before us. In the period of little more same credit for absolute originality as those than five years, he has founded a new school earlier writers, who, having no successful of invention; and established and endowed it author to imitate, were obliged to copy directwith nearly thirty volumes of the most ani- ly from nature. In naming him along with mated and original compositions that have Shakespeare, we meant still less to say that enriched English literature for a century, he was to be put on a level with Him, as to volumes that have cast sensibly into the shade the richness and sweetness of his fancy, or all contemporary prose, and even all recent that living vein of pure and lofty poetry which poetry-except perhaps that inspired by the flows with such abundance through every part Genius-or the Demon, of Byron)and, by of his compositions. On that level no other their force of colouring and depth of feeling — writer has ever stood—or will ever standby their variety, vivacity, magical facility, though we do think that there is fancy and and living presentment of character, have poetry enough in these contemporary pages, rendered conceivable to this later age the if not to justify the comparison we have venmiracles of the Mighty Dramatist.

tured to suggest, at least to save it, for the Shakespeare, to be sure, is more purely first time for two hundred years, from being original; but it should not be forgotten, that, altogether ridiculous. In saying even this, in his time, there was much less to borrow, however, we wish to observe, that we have in and that he too has drawn freely and largely view the prodigious variety and facility of the from the sources that were open to him, at modern writer—at least as much as the qualleast for his fable and graver sentiment;- for ity of his several productions. The variety his wit and humour, as well as his poetry, are stands out on the face of each of them; and always his own. In our times, all the higher, the facility is attested, as in the case of walks of literature have been so long and so Shakespeare himself, both by the inimitable often trodden, that it is scarcely possible to freedom and happy carelessness of the style keep out of the footsteps of some of our pre- in which they are executed, and by the matchcursors; and the ancients, it is well known, less rapidity with which they have been lavhave stolen most of our bright thoughts-and ished on the public. not only visibly beset all the patent ap- Such an author would really require a reproaches to glory—but swarm in such am- view to himself-and one too of swister than bushed multitudes behind, that when we quarterly recurrence; and accordingly we have think we have gone fairly beyond their pla- long since acknowledged our inability to keep giarisms, and honestly worked out an original up with him, and fairly renounced the task excellence of our own, up starts some deep- of keeping a regular account of his successive read antiquary, and makes it out, much to his publications; contenting ourselves with greeting him now and then in the pauses of his valued file” of his productions. The trial and brilliant career, and casting, when we do condemnation of Eine Deans are pathetic and meet, a hurried' glance over the wide field he beautiful in the very highest degree; and the has traversed since we met beforé.

scenes with the Duke of Argyle are equally We gave it formerly, we think, as our reason full of spirit; and strangely compounded of for thus passing over, without special notice, perfect knowledge of life and of strong and some of the most remarkable productions of deep feeling. But the great boast of the the age, that they were in fact too remarkable piece, and the great exploit of the authorto need any notice of ours—that they were as perhaps the greatest of all his exploits-is the s001), and as extensively read, as we could character and history of Jeanie Deans, from hope our account of them to be—and that in the time she first reproves her sister's flirta. reality all the world thought just what we tions at St. Leonard's

, till she settles in the were inclined to say of them. These reasons manse in Argyleshire. The singular talent certainly remain in full force; and we may with which he has engrafted on the humble now venture to mention another, which had and somewhat coarse stock of a quiet unasin secret, perhaps, as much weight with us as suming peasant girl, the heroic affection, the all the rest put together. We mean simply, strong sense, and lofty purposes, which disthat when we began with one of those works, tinguish this heroine-or rather, the art with we were conscious that we never knew how which he has so tempered and modified those to leave off; but, finding the author's words great qualities, as to make them appear noso much more agreeable than our own, went ways unsuitable to the station or ordinary on in the most unreasonable manner copying bearing of such a person, and so ordered and out description after description, and dialogue disposed the incidents by which they are after dialogue, till we were abused, not alto-called out, that they seem throughout adapted, gether without reason, for selling our readers and native as it were, to her condition, is in small letter what they had already in large, superior to any thing we can recollect in the Land for the abominable nationality of filling history of invention; and must appear, to any up our pages with praises of a Scottish author, one who attentively considers it, as a remark. and specimens of Scottish pleasantry and pa- able triumph over the greatest of all difficul. thos.' While we contritely admit the justice ties in the conduct of a fictitious narrative. of these imputations, we humbly trust that Jeanie Deans, in the course of her adventurous our Southern readers will now be of opinion undertaking, excites our admiration and symthat the offence has been in some degree ex- pathy a great deal more powerfully than most piated, both by our late forbearance, and our heroines, and is in the highest degree both present proceeding: For while we have done pathetic and sublime ;—and yet she never violence to our strongest propensities, in pass- says or does any one thing that the daughter ing over in silence two very tempting publi- of a Scotch cowfeeder might not be supposed cations of this author, on Scottish subjects and to say—and scarcely any thing indeed that is in the Scottish dialect, we have at last recur- not characteristic of her rank and habitual red to him for the purpose of noticing the only occupations. She is never sentimental, nor work he has produced on a .subject entirely refined, nor elegant; and though acting alEnglish; and one which is nowhere graced ways, and in very difficult situations, with either with a trait of our national character, or the greatest judgment and propriety, never a voluntary) sample of our national speech. seems to exert more than that downright and

Before entering upon this task, however, we obvious good sense which is so often found to must be permitted, just for the sake of keep- rule the conduct of persons of her condition. ing our chronology in order, to say a word or This is the great ornament and charm of the two on those neglected works, of which we work. Dumbiedykes, however, is an admirconstrained ourselves to say nothing, at the able sketch in the grotesque way;—and the time when they formed the subject of all other Captain of Knockdunder is a very spirited, disceptation.

and, though our Saxon readers will scarcely “ The Heart of Mid-Lothian” is remarkable believe it, a very accurate representation of a for containing fewer characters, and less va- Celtic deputy. There is less description of riety of incident, than any of the author's scenery, and less sympathy with external naformer productions:-and it is accordingly, in ture, in this, than in any of the other tales. some places, comparatively languid. The ( The Bride of Lammermoor” is more Porteous mob is rather heavily described ; and sketchy and romantic than the usual vein of the whole part of George Robertson, or Stan- the author—and loses, perhaps, in the exag, ton, is extravagant and unpleasing. The final geration that is incident to that style, some of catastrophe, too, is needlessly improbable and the deep and heartfelt interest that belongs to startling; and both Saddleirees and Davie more familiar situations. The humours of Deans become at last somewhat tedious and Caleb Balderstone, too, are to our taste the unreasonable; while we miss, throughout, the least successful of this author's attempts at character of the generous and kindhearted pleasantry—and belong rather to the school rustic, which, in one form or another, gives of French or Italian buffoonery, than to that such spirit and interest to most of the other of English humour;—and yet, to give scope stories. But with all these defects, the work to these farcical exhibitions, the poverty of has both beauty and power enough to vindi- the Master of Ravenswood is exaggerated becate its title to a legitimate descent from its yond all credibility, and to the injury even of mighty father-and even to a place in “the his personal dignity. Sir W. Ashton is tedious;

and Bucklaw and his Captain, though excel- | productions of which we have been prevented lently drawn, take up rather too much room from speaking in detail, we proceed, without for subordinate agents.—There are splendid further preface, to give an account of the things, however, in this work also.—The pic- work before us. Teenbere. ture of old Ailie is exquisite-and beyond the The story, as we have already stated, is enreach of any other living writer.—The hags tirely English; and consequently no longer posthat convene in the churchyard, have all the sesses the charm of that sweet Doric dialect

, terror and sublimity, and more than the na- of which even strangers have been made of ture of Macbeth's witches; and the courtship late to feel the force and the beauty. But our at the Mermaiden's well, as well as some of Southern neighbours will be no great gainers, the immediately preceding scenes, are full of 'after all, in point of familiarity with the perdignity and beauty. There is a deep pathos sonages, by ihis transference of the scene of indeed, and a genuine tragic interest in the action :-For the time is laid as far back as whole story of the ill-omened loves of the two the reign of Richard I.-—and we suspect that victims. The final catastrophe of the Bride, the Saxons and Normans of that age are rather however, though it may be founded on fact, less known to them than even the Highlanders is too horrible for fiction. But that of Ravens- and Cameronians of the present. This was wood is magnificent-and, taken along with the great difficulty the author had to contend the prediction which it was doomed to fulfil, with, and the great disadvantage of the suband the mourning and death of Balderstone, ject with which he had to deal. Nobody now is one of the finest combinations of supersti- alive can have a very clear or complete contion and sadness which the gloomy genius ofception of the actual way of life and manière our fiction has ever put together.

d'être of our ancestors in ihe year 1194. Some " The Legend of Montrose” is also of the of the more prominent outlines of their chivnature of a sketch or fragment, and is still alry, their priesthood, and their villenage, more vigorous than its companion.—There is may be known to antiquaries, or even to gentoo much, perhaps, of Dalgetty-or, rather, he eral readers; but all the filling up, and deengrosses too great a proportion of the work, tails, which alone could give body and life to -lor, in himself, we think he is uniformly the picture, have been long since effaced by entertaining ;-and the author has nowhere time. We have scarcely any notion, in short, shown more affinity to that matchless spirit of the private life and conversation of any who could bring out his Falstaffs and his Pis- class of persons in that remote period ; and, tols, in act after act, and play after play, and in fact, know less how the men and women exercise them every time in scenes of un- occupied or amused themselves-what they bounded loquacity, without either exhausting talked about-how they looked-or what they their humour, or varying a note from its char- habitually thought or felt, at that time in Engacteristic tone, than in his large and reiterated land, than we know of what they did or specimens of the eloquence of the redoubted thought at Rome in the time of Augustus, or Rittmaster. The general idea of the charac- at Athens in the time of Pericles. The meter is familiar to our comic dramatists after morials and relics of those earlier ages and the Restoration-and may be said in some remoter nations are greatly more abundant measure to be compounded of Captain Fluel- and more familiar to us, than those of our anlen and Bobadil;-but the ludicrous combi- cestors at the distance of seven centuries. nation of the soldalo with the Divinity student Besides ample histories and copious orations, of Marischal college, is entirely original; and we have plays, poems, and familiar letters of the mixture of talent, selfishness, courage, the former periods; while of the latter we coarseness, and conceit, was never so happily have only some vague chronicles, some suexemplified. Numerous as his speeches are, perstitious legends, and a few fragments of there is not one that is not characteristic- foreign romance. We scarcely know, indeed, and, to our taste, divertingly ludicrous. An- what language was then either spoken or not Lyle, and the Children of the Mist, are in written. Yet, with all these helps, how cold a very different manner- r-and, though extrava- and conjectural a thing would a novel be, of gant, are full of genius and poetry. The which the scene was laid in ancient Rome! whole scenes at Argyle's Castle, and in the The author might talk with perfect propriety escape from it—though trespassing too far of the business of the Forum, and the amusebeyond the bounds of probability-are given ments of the Circus—of the baths and the with great spirit and effect; and the mixture suppers, and the canvass for office—and the of romantic incident and situation, with the sacrifices, and musters, and assemblies. He tone of actual business and the real transac- might be quite correct as to the dress, furnitions of a camp, give a life and interest to the ture, and utensils he had occasion to mention; warlike part of the story, which belong to the and might even engross in his work various fictions of no other hand. There is but little anecdotes and sayings preserved in contemmade of Montrose himself; and the wager porary authors. But when he came to repreabout the Candlesticks—though said to be sent ihe details of individual character and founded in fact, and borrowed from a very feeling, and to delineate the daily conduct, well known and entertaining book, is one of and report the ordinary conversation of his the few things in the writings of this author, persons, he would find himself either frozen to which we are constrained to apply the epi- in among naked and_barren generalities, or thets of stupid and silly.

engaged with modern Englishmen in the masHaving thus hastily' set our mark on those querade habits of antiquity.

us.

In stating these difficulties, however, we greater proportion of the work is accordingly really mean less to account for the defects, made up of splendid descriptions of arms and than to enhance the merits of the work before dresses-moated and massive castles--toura

For though the author has not worked ments of mailed champions-solemn feastsimpossibilities, he has done wonders with his formal courtesies, and other matters of external subject; and though we do sometimes miss and visible presentment, that are only entitled those fresh and living pictures of the charac- to such distinction as connected with the olden ters which we know, and the nature with time, and new only by virtue of their antiquity which we are familiar—and that high and —while the interest of the story is maintained, deep interest which the home scenes of our far more by surprising adventures and extraown times, and our own people could alone ordinary situations, the startling effect of exgenerate or sustain, it is impossible to deny aggerated sentiments, and the strong contrast that he has made marvellous good use of the of exaggerated characters, than by the sober scanty materials at his disposal--and eked charms of truth and reality,—the exquisite them out both by the greatest skill and dex- representation of scenes with which we are terity in their arrangement, and by all the re- familiar, or the skilful development of affecsources that original genius could render sub- tions which we have often experienced. servient to such a design. For this purpose These bright lights and deep shadows—this he has laid his scene in a period when the succession of brilliant pictures, addressed as rivalry of the victorious Norman and the con- often to the eye as to the imagination, and quered Saxon, had not been finally composed; oftener to the imagination than the heart—this and when the courtly petulance, and chival- preference of striking generalities to homely rous and military pride of the one race, might details, all belong more properly to the proyet be set in splendid opposition to the manly vince of Poetry than of Prose; and Ivanhoe steadiness, and honest but homely simplicity accordingly seems to us much more akin 10 of the other: And has, at the same time, the most splendid of modern poems, than the given an air both of dignity and of reality to most interesting of modern novels; and savours his story, by bringing in the personal prowess more of Marmion, or the Lady of the Lake, of Cæur de Lion himself, and other person than of Waverley, or Old Mortality. For our ages of historical fame, to assist in its devel- part we prefer, and we care not who knows opment.—Though reduced, in a great measure, it, the prose to the poetry-whether in metre to the vulgar staple of armed knights, and or out of it; and would willingly exchange, if jolly friars or woodsmen, imprisoned damsels, the proud alternative were in our choice, even lawless barons, collared serfs, and household the great fame of Mr. Scott, for that which fools-he has made such admirable use of his awaits the mighty unknown who has here great talents for description, and invested raised his standard of rivalry, within the anthose traditional and theatrical persons with cient limits of his reign. We cannot now, so much of the feelings and humours that are however, give even an abstract of the story; of all ages and all countries, that we frequent- and shall venture, but on a brief citation, from ly cease to regard them -as it is generally the most striking of its concluding scenes. right to regard them—as parts of a fantastical The majestic Rebecca, our readers will recolpageant; and are often brought to consider lect, had been convicted before the grand the knights who joust in panoply in the lists, master of the Templars, and sentenced to die, and the foresters who shoot deer with arrows, unless a champion appeared to do battle with and plunder travellers in the woods, as real her accuser, before an appointed day. The individuals, with hearts of flesh and blood appointed day at last arrives. Rebecca is led beating in their bosoms like our own-actual out to the scaffold-faggots are prepared by existences, in short, into whose views we may the side of the lists—and in the lists appears still reasonably enter, and with whose emo the relentless Templar, mounted and armed tions we are bound to sympathise. To all for the encounter. No champion appears for this he has added, out of the prodigality of Rebecca ; and the heralds ask her if she yields his high and inventive genius, the grace and herself as justly condemned. the interest of some lofty, and sweet, and superhuman characters--for which, though that I maintain my innocence, and do not yield me

"Say to the Grand Master,' replied Rebecca, evidently fictitious, and unnatural in any as justly condemned, lest I become guilty of mine stage of society, the remoteness of the scene own blood. Say to him, that I challenge such deon which they are introduced, may serve as lay as his forms will permit, to see if God, whose an apology-if they could need any other opportunity is in man's extremity, will raise me up than what they bring along with them in a deliverer; and when such uttermost space iz their own sublimity and beauty.

passed, may his Holy will be done!' The herald

retired to carry this answer to the Grand Master. In comparing this work then with the former God forbid,' said Lucas Beaumanoir, that Jew or productions of the same master-hand, it is Pagan should impeach us of injustice. -Until the impossible not to feel that we are passing in shadows be cast from the west to the ease ward, will a good degree from the reign of nature and we wait to see if a champion will appear for this

unfortunate woman.' reality, to that of fancy and romance ; changing for scenes of wonder and curiosity, The hours pass away—and the shadows those more homefelt sympathies and deeper begin to pass to the eastward. The assembled touches of delight that can only be excited by multitudes murmur with impatience and comthe people among whom we live, and the ob- passion—and the Judges whisper to each other, jects that are constantly around us. A farlihat it is time to proceed to doom.

and ex

« PreviousContinue »