Page images

ficiency in the varieties of the vulgar tongue, which would have dumb founded the notable widow Blackacre' herself, and which her occasional slip-slop renders doubly amusing. Proud of her conquest and revenge, the good lady's imagination fairly runs riot in projected victories, the adverse man of law flies agbast from her technical rattle, like a cowed cur from the kettle at his heels; and, (to rise a little in our illustrations,) her close of life is as blazing and triumphant as that of the tropic sun in Rokeby—“ Peace to her ashes," we may say in all sincerity; for expecting but little of feeling or affection from her, we are not scandalized at the want of these qualities which she so grossly betrays in the first and second volumes. We looked only for amusement, and have enjoyed it in abundance.

Watty, her idiot son, is a creature of a kinder temperament than either his father or mother, and as true to nature, we think, as either. The conduct of the story demanded that he should be about a degree and a half superior to a mere driveller, and the line of demarcation is drawn with judgment, peculiarly in the interesting and amusing scene of the sheriff's inquest, and in those circumstances in which the better and more powerful feelings of his nature act, as it were, intentively.'

“ It's my bairn, replied Watty, and ye hae naething, father, to do wi't. Will í no tak care o' my ain baby—my bonny wee Betty Bodle ?'

“Do as I bid thee, or I'll maybe gar thee fin' the weight o' my staff,' cried the old man sharply, expecting immediate obedience to his commands, such as he always found, however positively Walter, on other occasions, at first refused; but in this instance he was dissapointed; for the widower looked him steadily in the face, and said,

« • I'm a father noo; it would be an awfu' thing for a decent grey-headed man like you, father, to strike the head o' a motherless family.'" Vol. 1. p. 307.

These occasional dawnings of reason, however, are so managed as not to break the consistency of poor Watty's fatuity; and, to this end, the very trait in question is artfully combined with an instance of obstinacy and perverted feel. ing. The author's leading conception, or key to the character of Walter, seems to have been, that his fatuus" should : possess to a certain extent, the powers of feeling and perception common to other men, without the combining faculties necessary to turn them to account. Thus he is not des

titute of regard for his own interest, but incapable of perceiving any thing beyond a tangible advantage, and as the proverb says, "penny-wise and pound-foolish." His parental affection is strong, but it is transferred like that of a silly sheep to the lamb clothed in the fleece of her own offspring, and his humour, which excites a laugh in severla places, appears merely to arise from the impression of external objects.

On the three characters which we have enumerated, the author has put forth his whole strength, and the rest are of that common-place sort, which leaves but little impression on the memory. It is true that the open-hearted Charles and his gentle wife interest us deeply, but then they merely do so as human beings suffering undeservedly, for had a prosperous fate been allotted them by the author, they would quietly have fallen into the ranks of“ bien weel-doing cloth-merchants,” and have been forgotten by the reader. Nor can we describe James and Ellen more distinctly than as a generous hot-headed young man, and a fine young woman above the middle height, characters not very uncommon. As to Robina, she conveys the idea of a pert cunning milliner, addicted to coarse finesse, and sordidness is the only trait in the character either of her husband or father-in-law. George Walkinshaw, we must say, is deserving of a better fate than that which the author allots him, and of less indignation than is felt - against him by his sensitive nephew; though perhaps a little selfish and calculating, he is mild, gentlemanlike and placable, and on the whole much too respectable to be consigned so unceremoniously to the tender mercies of crabs and congers.

We are not well enough versed in all the varieties of Scotch oddity, to enable us to say, whether the hobby of , Kilmarkeckle, the amateur tobacconist, be a natural one or

not; suffice it, that it is an inoffensive one. It is undoubt. edly necessary to the existence of all the varieties of Bores, that they should possess their hobbies, and the old gentleman paces very quietly through the green meadows on his “ hippopotamus,” without treading on any one's toes ; not so, that unhappy lady Mrs. Eadie, who may claim the privilege of figuring as Bore in ordinary to the present work. She dances across every body's path in as ricketty a pair of Os. seanic stilts as ever were mounted, and great indeed must be the privilege of the second sight if it authorizes such pompous self-complacency as pervades every word and aclion. Unmoved by the irresistible “ bathos of the cow," she interprets every cock and bull sound into a prophecy, (see pages 134, 135, 138, vol. 3 ) and entirely absorbed in the Jignity of the Glengael blood, slights both the convenience and the feelings of her worthy husband. Nor are the motives on the strength of which she assumes so much, of more than an every day nature, since we will suppose that her sybylline knowledge, if it really exists, has taught her the real nature of James's rights and prospects. In short, in spite of “her august air, the impressive melancholy of her countenance, the solemn Sidonian grandeur of her voice, and again, the towering grandeur with which she shakes her right arm over George's head,” (to his astonishment we sus. pect) we cannot consider this poor bestraught lady as half so rational or respectable as Andrew Wylie's old gypsy.

We cannot leave unremarked a few more instances of bad taste. Though we know something of Welsh customson such occasions, and are disposed to grant some latitude to those of Scotland, yet the drunken funeral of old Plealand's still appears somewhat overstrained. Nor can we see why Charles, educated by his bigbly accomplished grandmother, need speak broader Scotch than his brother George, brought up at the feet of the notable Girzy. To talk too of the regret of Lot's wife for her elegant dresses, (Vol. I, p. 118.) is most woeful and unseasonable bantering indeed ; nor can we easily forgive the author for shaking our faith in the domestic comforts of our worthy friend Bailie Jarvie, and metamorphosing the modest Mattie into a gorgeous vixen. Fielding and Smollet, it is true, have already tried this experiment of putting new wine into old bottles, in introducing Random's friend Morgan to Peregrine Pickle, and making Adams the tutor to Tom Jones's children ; but as they did not repeat it, it is pobable that they perceived in time the bad taste of the practice ; besides, they only make free with their own creations, without altering their character; but in the present instance, the author has seized upon, peppered, and bedeviled the conceptions of his betters in a most unwarrantable manner. We must remonstrate also against the use of the term “we,” in speaking of the author's imaginary self as an occasional actor in the story. The term may be very properly applied to the divinity of kings, or to our august selves, sitting and deciding in full monthly conclave on the merits of contemporary works; but as relating to the gentleman who sat at Mr. Ornit's desk, or walked with Dr. and Mrs: Denholm to Watty's wedding, it conveys an incongruous idea of a double, treble, or quadruple man, a sort of human am.


phisboena, such as, we can at least venture to assert, is not common in our southern climate ; or of the glee, where three or four voices sing in concert,

Grave on my tomb, when there I'm laid,

Here lies one who lov'd but one dear maid."

Finally, (for we have reached the last page) we would remind the author that the world in general cares, but little for the Glasgow magistrates or their civic feasts, which seem such a greedy subject of local allusion on the opposite bank of the Tweed. That the corporation in question is a most respectable body of men, and equal or superior in good taste to their university, we make no doubt, but confess ourselves totally uninterested in their lime punch, their turtle, and their indigestions ; nor do we conceive that they will feel themselves much obliged to the author for dragging such matters to light, or to a dying them in a strain so dubiously worded between compliment and banter, as, though closing with the paff direct, must leave somewhat of an aigre-doux flavour on their palates, as bad as a surfeit of the said boasted punch. We trust that Mr. G. will avoid in future faults of this description, which, though excusable in his earlier productions, are misplaced and offensive in a work like the present, destined, as we may pretty confidently predict, to rank as an English classic.

ART. X. Relics of Literature. By Stephen Collet, A.M.

8vo. pp 418. 158. Boys. 1823.


Few compilers of Adversaria, it might be imagined, could transcribe their common place-book for the press, without producing a volume in wbich the entertaining should predominate over the dull. It would be harsh to say that Mr. Collet must be content to take his stand among these few but certainly, in spite of his decorated title and sharp-typed pages (two merits in which we shall be glad to see him often imitated), we do not meet with much in his collections with which we have not met before; and we do meet with some things with which we never wish to meet again. We shall proceed to make free with a few, which we think can amuse our readers; who therefore must expect us to be as

desultory, rambling, and discursive as is the theme which we have taken in hand.

We begin with a very beautiful madrigal by Lodge, printed, as is believed, from an “unique edition” (though we do not quite know what these words mean) of his poems.

“Love in my bosom, like a bee,

Doth sucke his sweete;
Now with his wings he plays with me,

Now with his feete.

“ Within mine eyes he makes his nest,

His bed amid my tender breast ;
My kisses are his daily feast,

And yet he robs me of my rest.
“ Strike I my lutemhe tunes the string,

He music plays, if I do sing;
He lends me every living thing,
Yet cruel he my heart doth sting.

What, if I beat the wanton boy

With many a rod,
He will repay me with annoy,

Because a god.

“ Then sit thou safely on my knee,

And let thy bower my bosom be;
O Cupid ! so thou pity me,
I will not wish to part from thee.”

P. 7.

In the Lansdowne Library, to which Mr. Collet is much indebted, is a copy of Burnet's History of his own Times, with marginal notes in Swift's hand writing. Those given below are sufficiently characteristic.

« P. 28. Burnet. “The earl of Argyle was a more solemn sort of man, grave and sober, and free of all scandalous vices.'—Swift. • As a man is free of a corporation, he means.

“P. 49. Burnet. 'I will not enter farther into the military part; for I remember an advice of Marshal Schomberg, never to meddle in military matters. His observation was, “Some affected to relate those affairs in all the terms of war, in which they committed great errors, that exposed them to the scorn of all commanders, who must despise relations that pretend to exactness, when there were blunders in every part of them.'-Swift. Very foolish advice, for soldiers cannot write."

« PreviousContinue »