Imágenes de páginas

tempt to underrate the merits of the view of making invidious compari. defender. I admire and honour his sons. His client had not the pregenius; but still that genius may be sumption to attempt to be thought great, without being the greatest; to excel the great master-spirit of his he may shine a star of the first mag- age, Shakespeare. The present disnitude, without rivalling the sun in cussion was forced upon him, and he his splendour. In fertility and vi. hoped it would not be considered as gour of imagination, in felicity of arrogance on his part if he attemptpainting to the life, in simple and ed to defend his client. Comparisons natural pathos, and almost in hu- of all kinds, but especially of literary mour and wit, he is little, if at all, merit, were often very vague and ininferior to his rival. He paints å va conclusivc. Of two persons attempt. riety of characters with true consist- ing the same walk, one might excel ency and originality; so distinctly in qualifications of one kind, and one are they brought out, that we seem in another, and it was a matter of to recognise them as individuals, and much nicety to adjust the balance in time come to reckon them in the between them. The noble and learnlist of our acquaintances. So far as ed counsel on the other side, with he depicts, he does so with life, and much candour, had admitted, that the pictures please and amuse us. in what must be considered the esBut we in vain look for those aw sentials of genius, the author of fully-deep portraitures of humanity, Waverley was little or nowise infethose sympathetic delineations of feel. rior to his great prototype-in imaing, and gradual risings, insidious ginative power, in felicity of descripchanges, and tempests and whirl- tion, and in depth of feeling. That winds of passion, coming so closely he had not pourtrayed many of the home to men's business and bosoms, passions and feelings, which are most which are to be found in Shakes remarkable, and most prevalent in speare. If we come to consider the humanity, may perhaps be owing to language in which the respective au the circumstance that Shakespeare thors clothe their ideas and descrip. lived before him. The great minds tions, we will find an immense su of the days that are past have seized periority on the side of the drama- upon the most striking and most im. tist. There is an indescribable charm portant subjects, and have left little in the flow and harmony of measured to their successors but imitation and lines, which much enhances the sen- amplification. There is no farther timents they express; together with room to paint the workings of ambi. a dignity and conciseness of expres- tion, leading on to guilt and cruelty, sion, which prose can never equal, after the characters of Macbeth and and never approach. Shakespeare's King Richard. Groundless jealousy, volumes teem with passages of beau- revenge, and the love of malice, purety, in which are crowded and con- ly for its own sake, is already decentrated maxims, reflections, and picted in Othello and Iago,--the meturns of expression, which have be- lancholy wreck of a noble and sensicome incorporated with our very tive mind in Hamlet ---and youthful thoughts, and which we borrow like passion in the loves of Romeo and a second language, on all occasions, Juliet. It may perhaps be said, that, either of seriousness or levity. His striking out new paths, and seizing works can bear to be perused again on incidents not obvious to the comand again, and always with renewed mon eye, and therefore not suspector additional pleasure.”

ed to exist, is a principal characterThe illustrious counsel, after obe istic of genius. But human nature, serving that it was almost needless to though diversified, is not inexhaus. call any witnesses on the part of his tible,-the general properties, and client, although hosts of them were primitive passions and affection, have in attendance, concluded a learned already been sufficiently pourtrayed. and eloquent speech, by craving

from The Author of Waverley then, to be the jury a verdict in his favour. original, had to take these general

The counsel for the defender now passions of our nature, and represent rose. When the question was first them when under peculiar circumagitated, he said, it was not with the stances, situations, and states of cia

vilization; as is exemplificd in the Here a motley crowd of witnesses Covenanters, under the sway of reli- were examined, consisting of all ranks, gious enthusiasm,-the Celts in a degrees, ages, and professions,-oldsemi-barbarous state, &c. These maids, bachelors, grave doctors, and characters, then, being peculiar, and philosophers--striplings and young confined to a sect or nation, though misses, who all bore unequivocal tes they may not be so generally or in- timony of the pleasure they had dedividually interesting, display not rived from the author's works. After the less art and power in their con- these, Voltaire, and some others of struction. In his historical charac- his countrymen, his disciples, were ters, the Author of Waverley will brought forward, in order to give bear an equal comparison with Shake their opinion against the dramas of speare, in his truth of painting, and Shakespeare. But Voltaire's evidence power of illustrating and amplifying was so contradictory, and so plainly the conceptions of history. In pa- shewed that he was unacquainted thos, the history and trial of Effie with the spirit, and prejudiced aDeans, the catastrophe of the Bride gainst the plan of the author's works, of Lammermoor, and several other as to render his testimony of no passages, vie with the finest scenes of weight. Shakespeare. The ludicrous humour Here the pleadings closed, and of Bailie Jarvie has few counter the venerable Judge summed up the parts in the pages of the other; and evidence in a clear and masterly manthe cavalier, Dugald Dalgetty, need ner. He left the decision entirely not be ashamed to shake hands with to the impartial verdict of the jury; the sack-loving Sir John Falstaff. and if they should give it in favour Rebecca in Ivanhoe, and the sisterly of the pursuer, in his opinion, it affection of Minna and Brenda in the would rather be an honour than a Pirate, equal the most lovely crea- disappointment for the Author of tions of Shakespeare. In short, there Waverley to be thought worthy of would be no end to enumerating his competing with the immortal Shakevarious beauties; and we shall now

speare. proceed to bring forward proofs of The jury, after retiring for some the universal admiration in which time, gave a verdict in favour of the the works of the defender are held. pursuer, on both issues. C.

EDGEFIELD. The landlord received me with a fellows, and both of us had spent a sinile, but the evening was wet, and great part of our early life at Edge my parlour contained nothing in the field,-he with his father and mother, shape of amusement, except an odd and I, being an orphan, with my volume of Hume’s History of Eng- uncle and aunt. We both left the land. I was on the point of becom- village about the same time; Dick. ing melancholy, when the door open- son sailed for the West Indies, and ed, and my old friend Dickson held i for the East. Our youthful friendout his hand to me. I had written ship was thus entirely broken off, him a note about an hour before, and many years elapsed before we mentioning the circumstances which again met by accident in Paris. We would oblige me to pass the night at had both made independent fortunes, the village, on my way to the metro- and were on our way back to our polis ; but I had scarcely hoped that native country. Circumstances, howit would have found him disengaged. ever, kept me for some time on the We were both, you may be sure, continent, and Dickson set off by him. heartily glad to meet, for we had self for Edgefield, where, he said, all been separated for some time. We his ambition was to end his days as pulled our chairs nearer the fire, happily as he had begun them. I profilled our glasses to the brim, and mised to see him, if ever I happened to prepared to make the most of our revisit the scenes of my childhood; time.

but fate made it necessary for me to Dickson and I had been schools reside in a very different part of the

island, and it was now a mere accio on an occasion like that to which I dent which enabled me to spend a now refer-happier than we would dozen of hours in the very heart of have been without it. all my ancient associations.

“ And now," said I, after we had The fire blazed brightly, and we talked over a few of our more recent had scarcely finished our first bottle. adventures at Paris, “ you must tell Are there any beings in existence so me something of former times-of unfortunate as never to have en- • auld-lang-syne, as the Scotch call joyed the extacy of such a moment? it. Stands Edgefield where it did ?" If there are, they may die when How can you suppose it possithey please, for they do not know ble?" answered Dickson; “ does not what it is to live. We were both Time roll his ceaseless course, and twenty years older than when we change every thing, even the appearlast sat in this very parlour; but ance of the natural and moral world, though time had somewhat changed as effectually as the bloom of a lady's the expression of our features, and

al. cheek, or the brilliancy of her eye? tered the appearance of our persons, If the boary tyrant spares neither it had still left us hearts and souls cities nor kingdoms, making his trade as capable as ever of cherishing that of devastation a melancholy monoenthusiasm and warmth of feeling poly, will he overlook, think you, which, with us, had ever constituted an humble and defenceless village ?" the chief charm of our existence. “ Well,” said I, smiling, “ let us Let the plodding slave of Plutus, talk somewhat less metaphorically. and the cold laborious bookworm, toil Let us pass from theory to reality. on for ever through their appointed Are the Pearsons still in the old mole-hills, and let them, if they house adjoining the parsonage? do please, sneer at what to them appears you recollect the predatory incurthe absurd eccentricity of those who sions we used to make into their orhave ventured to trace out for them- chard, to rob the ancient trees of their selves a little by-path widely differ- very parsimonious supply of apples, ent from the broad and beaten road not quite like those of the Hesperia of life. “ There are more things in des? The old man used to catch us heaven and earth than are dreamt sometimes, but the good dame inof in their philosophy.” Happiness terfered in our behalf, and as soon as is not external_it is not to be sought her Kρειων Αγαμεμνων, υποδρα ιδων' for far and wide, like a diainond was about to announce our fate, she mine, or a vein of gold—it is within playfully tapped him on the cheek ourselves. It consists neither in with her spectacles, and giving him wealth, nor knowledge, nor power, one of the sweetest smiles that ever but in that blessed constitution of a Venus of sixty bestowed upon a our mental and physical capacities Mars of seventy, eloquently deprewhich induces us to clothe in vere cated his wrath. The appeal was dure and sunshine every thing irresistible; and with many a good around us, which can convert a des advice, all of which we commonly sart into an Arcadia, and change a contrived to forget by the following melancholy world into a glorious afternoon, we were restored to liberelysium. Confident in the elasticity ty. Is the venerable couple still in of an unchanging temper, and the the land of the living ?” “No; they luxuriance of a sunny imagination, are both dead. Their old house has there are none of the calamities of been pulled down, and a field of corn mortality which individuals, thus is at this moment waving where framed, need fear. They move on once their garden smiled.""" in their own orbits, and, like Saturn " Peace be to their ashes ! What with his ring, they are independent can you tell me of the Arnots ? Edof all light except their own. But I ward was the cleverest boy at school; am wandering from my subject ; all his sister Magdalene the prettiest I meant to say is, that (thanks be girl in the village ; and their fato the gods !) Dickson and I had al- ther the only Justice of Peace in the ways a little romance in our consti- county that no one ever thought of tutions, and that consequently we laughing at. What has become of were always--and more especially Edward? After yourself, Dickson, he

was my favourite playfellow. Per- “ Elle etait de ce monde, ou les plus belles haps his sister had some connection

choses with our friendship, for I daresay Ont le pire destin; you may recollect that I could dise Et rose, elle a vecu ce qui vivent les roses tinguish, at a tolerably early period, L'espace d'un matin.” the difference between a black eye " Is she there indeed?” cried I, catchand a blue. Magdalene's was of the ing the import of his words almost most bewitching blue. She was a before they were uttered. “I had year or two older than I, but I liked almost fancied a being such as she her the better. Every body who could never die.” “ You should ra. knew her liked her,--every body, I ther have wondered,” said Dickson, mean, who was not of her own sex, “ that she ever lived." " Is there for, to their shame be it spoken, any of our former friends in the vilthere was not a woman between the lage at all ?" I at length inquired, years of fifteen and fifty who did after another pause. • A few," was not look upon her with jealousy and the reply, “a very few; but they envy. I had the vanity to suppose are all changed; it is difficult to that our esteem might be mutual, distinguish these from strangers ; and I remember that, when alone, I girls have become wives and mothers; not unfrequently indulged in a few boys have grown into fathers; and day-dreams of felicity, of which she the generation of seniors to whom we was ever sure to be the heroine ; but looked up with so much deference, as they were only dreams; her gentle the wisest and most august of huimage was soon destined to pass from man beings, have either been gatherbefore mine eyes, and, under another ed to their fathers, or, having dwinheaven, new cares and hopes were to dled down into their second childbe awakened in my bosom. Yet I ishness, and mere oblivion,' exist never forgot her, though I daresay only in the slippered pantaloon, she has long since forgotten me; I can call her up to my mind even now,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans with her thickly clustering ringlets

every thing.' of dark hair, and soft expressive eye,

“ Has this change of persons," and her sweet smile, that seemed to asked I,“ effected any change in the rest upon you like moonlight; and habits of the society and general chathen the tones of her beautiful voice, racteristics of the place?” “Much," there was so much feeling, so much answered my friend; "the Sir John soul in them! You will smile at me, and Lady Lambert, who, in our Dickson, but you will forgive my younger days, resided at the Castle enthusiasm, when you recollect that in the neighbourhood, and to whose I talk of my first love." Dickson, decision in all points, civil, political, however, seemed to have as little in and moral, the whole village bowed, clination to smile as I myself had. were, as you must remember, a cou. He appeared as much interested in ple of the most eminent Christians,' the subject as I was. Perhaps he also that is to say, of the most outrageous had loved her. We were both si. Methodists then in the kingdom. lent for some minutes. My reverie Under their administration Edgewas what would commonly be called field was a sort of New Zion in miniaa melancholy one, for it carried me ture-a most godly sanctuary, where back to the “ fairy haunts of longa all the saints delighted 'to tarry till lost hours ;” but who does not know their beards grew! It was here that that the pensive and mellow sorrow the itinerant orators employed by (if I may be allowed the expression) Bible and Missionary Societies loved produced by such applications, is to sojourn. Here did these' sweet worth a whole eternity of careless and holy men' contrive most easily to and clamorous joy?

open the pockets of the elect,' and My friend spoke first, but it was to teach the new-born babes of with reluctance, as unwilling to grace' how' they might make their chase away the vision which our fan- calling effectual,' and their “salvacies had created. “ Alas,” said he, tion sure.' Here were religious tracts with a sigh,

diffused with a lavish hand ; and he

[ocr errors]

who had not read « The Death-bed ed, in particular, with a prodigious Scenes of Susan Fry,' or ' The sud- passion for poetry, and possessing, den and wonderful Conversion of Ti. or imagining she possessed, some lite, mothy Purvis, Tailor in Notting. tle portion of the divinus afflatus

here ham,' was one who had as yet made self, she instituted, in place of the but small progress towards the 'New now neglected and forgotten Bible Jerusalem,' and who might still be Societies, a Society of a very differconsidered as wandering in heathen ent description, to which she was darkness.' But at length Sir John pleased to give the name of The and his lady had their lives and their Literary and Poetical Association.' labours of love brought to a close. This Society, consisting as much of They died, of course, most comfort. ladies as of gentlemen, ineets in the ably, and were buried with all due castle once every fortnight, and, now pomp. The heir to the titles and that I think of it, this is the very estate was a nephew of Sir John; he evening. To cut a long story short, drove his lady down to the castle in therefore, if you like the proposal, I a barouche and four; he ordered all shall be happy to take you with me the old furniture to be consigned to as a stranger, I being a member, and a lumber-room, and brought down every member having that privilege.” his own at great expense from Lon- I never neglect any opportunity don; he collected all the tracts and that offers for seeing human nature innumerable books of Theology, with in any thing like a new light, even which the house was stuffed, into though the gratification of my curiothe stable-yard, and, setting fire to sity should subject me to some little them' en masse,' he honoured Edge personal inconvenience. On the prefield Methodism with as magnificent sent occasion, 1 availed myself most a funeral-pile as it could have wished. willingly of my friend's invitation, Then at last did the potent, grave, and as the rain had now ceased, and and reverend inhabitants, begin to the moon was shining brightly, we think they might venture to steal out had a pleasant walk of about a mile of their cloak of hypocrisy, and re- and a half to the castle. On the sume somewhat of the manners and way thither, I was informed that I feelings of human beings. A strolle would have to pay a trilling price for ing company of players, that had the privilege I was about to enjoy, been literally pelted out of the place for that every stranger who was inabout three years before, now ven- troduced into the presence-chamber tured to return ; and the children, ale of this most enlightened body was most unconscious of their backslide expected to favour them, either with ing,' began to entertain some very some piece of literary information, sceptical notions as to the probability or some little scrap, in prose or verse, of their being taken up to the moon, if of his own. “ But this is a condithey ventured to gather a few prim- tion," added my friend, with which roses on a Sunday afternoon. The new you will find 110 difficulty in comlady was as active as her lord. She plying, for you were at one time a is a professed blue-stocking, and of very illustrious poetaster, and must course, to suppose that she could be retain on your memory many of your religious, would have been the next most successful productions. thing to high treason. She has a need be under little apprehension of smattering of Greek; she reads La- any thing like criticism, for, among tin with tolerable fluency; in French the other poetical effusions which and Italian she is au fait. With all we may have the good fortune to this load of learning, it was not to hear, I will venture to gay, you will be supposed that she should have hardly find one that would be thought any wish to resemble the flowers that worthy of a place even in ‘La Belle

are born to blush unseen.' Accord. Assemblée. Comforted with this ingly, the whole efforts of her genius assurance, I promised to do all in my were expended in endeavouring to power to recal to mind some of those diffuse a love of literature over the juvenile essays which I had now for village, or rather among such of its so long a time forgotten. inhabitants as she condescended to The members of the “ Association” make her associates. Being inspire were on the point of commencing the



[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »