Imágenes de páginas

in contest with a man, erouching under of vanity also ; but he was frugal, the stroke, and yielding to the strength dexterous in the management of counof his antagonist.

try affairs, and had added to his estates The learned Baronet, moreover, by such judicious purchases, that they obligingly communicated to me, from greatly out-weighed the possessions of a Ms. history of his family, which his rival. But the pas, or precedency, has been long preserved in it, some universally given to Sir Walter both amusing anecdotes of the ancient feud in public and private, wounded the that had subsisted between his ances- pride of Somerville, and induced him tors and the Somervilles, of the inve- to bestow on his neighbour the slightteracy of which so many instances are ing epithet of the " Goodman of Aldetailed in Mr Scott's publication. lanton;" a salutation which Sir WalAnd although such anecdotes must ter never failed to retaliate in kind; appear rather uninteresting in the pre- so that that of the “Goodman of Camsent day, yet, I trust, you will admit nethan" was as courteously retorted, the following few particulars into your as often as opportunity offered. But useful work. In expressing this hope, this is a circumstance, which, though I assure you, sir, that I act on no in- carefully recorded in the Allanton structions from the gentleman in ques- MSS., the good Lord Somerville has tion ; but I think it will not only ap- not thought proper to notice. Both, pear as a proof of that impartiality, however, being fond of their pint-stoup for which every public writer aspires of claret, they occasionally forgot these to be distinguished, but as a matter of animosities at the parish change-house, justice to a family, which certainly is according to the custom of the times, at the head of one of the most ancient or at their respective mansions; and as branches of the House of STEWABT. Camnethan's residence was in the im

The feud, it seems, which subsisted mediate neighbourhood of the church, between the Stewarts and the Somere it was the fashion of the day to wash villes, was of very ancient standing, down the sermon there, with copious probably originating in some of those potations of that exhilarating beverage. predatory excursions, or personal quar- It was probably at one of these conrels, which occupied the leisure, while vivial meetings that Lord Somerville they inflamed the passions, of a war- met Sir Walter, and his brother, Sir like race of men. Sir Walter Stewart James Stewart of Kirkfield and Coltand Somerville of Camnethan, it ap- ness,“ with most of the honest men pears, had inherited the antipathies (as he says) within the parish, of any of their respective houses. Unlike account :" And it was not unnatural each other in temper and pursuits, in his Lordship to speak, in the lantheir animosity was imbittered by their guage of the family, of two of its most religious prejudices, and by their po- inveterate political opponents, and of litical and parish disputes. For, while the only persons in the district, posSir Walter supported, with all his sessed of rank and fortune sufficient to might, the solemn league and

covenant overshadow the consequence of his (the popular doctrine of the times) kinsman. The fact is, that both the Somerville adhered, with no less per- vanity and the consequence of Somer. tinacity, to the episcopal principles of ville were soon not only overshadowed, his ancestors ; and no man, who con- but completely eclipsed, in Lanarktemplates only the milder influence of shire; for Sir James Stewart, who religious opinions at present, can in was a merchant and banker in Edinany degree conceive their rançorous burgh, and had acquired a handsomne character nearly two centuries aga. fortune in these honourable profes

When other topics failed, the anti- sions, * actually purchased the greater quity of their families supplied a fruitful theme of jealousy and dissention, and was at that time an affair of no • He became commissary and paymastere small interest as well as amusement general, anno 1650, to the Scotch army un. to their neighbours. Camnethan (ac- der General Leslie, which was gefeated at cording to Lord Somerville, as well as

Dunbar by Oliver Cromwell; and, together the Stewart MSS.) was a vain and ex

with the Marquis of Argyle and the Earl of pensive character, who, by a course of who, on the part of the Scotch, held the

Eglinton, was one of the three commissioners extravagance, had run out his estate. conference with Cromwell on Bruntsfield Sir Walter, it appears, had his share Links

part of the Camnethan estate, leaving are also given at length in the Stewart the owner in possession of only the MSS.), are a sufficient evidence of his mansion-house, and an inconsiderable entering with eagerness into all the space adjoining to it. This last por- family quarrels. Hence his anxious tion, a few years after, was also dis- desire, on every occasion, to detract posed of to an advocate in Edinburgh, from the character, and lessen the of the name of Harper; and it has importance, of both the brothers, Sir since passed, together with other pro- Walter and Sir James; to represent perty of greater extent, into a younger them as fewars, “ from some antibranch of the Lee family.

quity,however, of the Earl of TweedThere is another anecdote of these dale's, in Allcathmuir; to describe two rival lairds, Sir Walter Stewart them as persons whose ancestors had and Somerville of Camnethan, which “ sat below the salt,” &c. &c.; ail of is recorded in the family history above which, he himself must have felt, alluded to; and I shali beg leave to were what Tacitus calls Ignorantia mention it, as illustrative of the cha- recti, et invidia,* the mere ebullitions racters of both.

of party animosity,

-of animosity of When Oliver Cromwell, after re- all others the most likely to go down ducing Scotland to subjection, directed with the uninformed among his own a valuation to be taken of the landed adherents, that it vilified their advere property of the kingdom (and which saries, and contained withal a certain constitutes the rule

whereby the cess, intermixture of truth. But could Lord and sundry other public burdens, are Somerville, even in imagination, have. still paid), the Laird of Camnethan, anticipated that these his Memoirs anxious to exhibit his importance as a were to descend to posterity,—that landholder, gave in his rent-roll at an they were to be edited, in a future extravagant value, and, as it was sup- day, by one of the greatest geniuses posed, greatly beyond the truth. Sir of his age and nation, and, under the Walter, on the other hand, who would protection of his powerful name, sent have spilt the last drop of his blood in forth to pass current with the world, a contest for superiority on any other we may do him the justice to believe, occasion, when called upon for his re- that he would have repressed his envy, turn, took care to exhibit a statement and tempered party rancour with as greatly below the mark. On this, greater moderation. He seems, howhis neighbours, who knew of their ever, in his day, to have been what bickerings, did not fail to rally him, Dr Johnson called a good hater," for being thus surpassed by his rival, although, in the main, a very worthy although well known to be possessed and honourable man. of a far more valuable estate." But the

In regard to the term Fewar or wily knight, who guessed at the object Vassal, it must be known to every of the Protector's policy, was resolved one, however slenderly versed in feuto act with becoming moderation on dal history, that it implied merely the such an occasion, and encouraged his condition of him who held an estate brother, Sir James, in the same pru- under the tenure of “ suit and service dent line of conduct. He therefore to a superior lord,” without denoting only laughed at the transaction ; quiet any personal inferiority, or any degraly 'observing, that his neighbour's dation of rank. The greatest lords estate was " bonny and bield, and all themselves, as well as barons of the lying on the Clyde';" whereas his own first distinction, often held lands of a (he said) was " but cauld muirland, subject superior, and consequently as everybody knew, and naething like were fewars or vassals to that superior, Camnethan’s." Accordingly, the two who, in his turn, held them of the properties stand thus taxed and rated crown. Further, that a tenure of in the cess-books, down to the present lands from the church, in that period, period.

was considered nearly as honourable The bitterness with which Lord So- as one under the crown itself. Of both merville speaks of all his political op- of these holdings numerous examples ponents, and the soreness with which occur in the course of the Somerville he details his friend's contest with his Memoirs. See vol. i. pp. 114, 111, neighbour about changing the site of the parish church, and Sir Walter's

“ Insensibility to merit, and envy of successful application against him to the possession.” See Tacit. in Vit. Agricol. the General Assembly (which, I find, sub initio.


&c. &c.-It appears that Sir Walter Stewart held one ot his estates, namely that of Allanton, of the church, by

No III. which it was originally granted, as already mentioned, to his ancestor, Sir (Septem adversus Thebas ÆschyliAllan of Daldowie.

EURIPIDIS Phænissa.)
Soon after the
Reformation, when the immense pro-

The Chorus was the distinguishing perty of the clergy came to be parcelled feature of the Greek tragedy. It was out to the great lords who had interest composed of a company of men or at court, Lord Yester, the ancestor of women, who, though they are to be the Marquis of Tweeddale, obtained a considered as witnesses rather than grant of the whole barony of Allcath- personages of the play, were usually muir, as first vassal under the crown; connected with the principal characters and the “ superiority” was retained by by the ties of domestic dependence, or that noble family until a late period. friendship, or country, and took a Thus the Somervilles, as it appears, deep interest in the events that were held some of their estates of subjects passing. They remained constantly superior, and therefore might specially on the stage; and though they did be termed their fewars or feudal vas- not by their actions promote or retard sals, with the same degree of justice; the views of the main agents, yet they although it is certain that the epithet bore a considerable share in the diaextended in general to yeomen, or per- logue. Their office was to soothe the sons of inferior degree.

sorrows of the sufferers,—to shew to Haying now, as I trust, sufficiently the vicious the danger of the unresvindicated the family honours of a re

trained indulgence of the passions,—to spected friend (who is much more strengthen the good in the pursuit of able, had he chosen, to have under virtue, and to sing hymns in honour taken the task himself), I shall here of the gods, in which an enthusiastic close the subject, and take leave of the and elevated poetry was made subser. worthy Lord Somerville, for whose vient to morality and religion. Sevefamily I entertain the highest respect, ral inconveniences attended this sin, and from whose work I have derived gular appendage of the drama. As considerable pleasure as well as in- they never quitted the stage there formation. Without drawing any in- could be no change of scene, and it vidious comparisons between such dis- was necessary that many sentiments tinguished families as the Stewarts and should be uttered, and many actions the Somervilles, who may be allowed performed, in their presence, which it to stand upon their respective merits,

was inconsistent with the nature of I will only say, with a judicious an

man to reveal. From this contrivance cient, Non historia debet egredi veri- arose the unities of time and place tatem, et honeste factis veritas sufficit. which were essential to the ancient I agree, however, with this Noble drama. There could be no change of Lord, and with a much better writer, place where a number of people remainnamely Tacitus, * in thinking, that it ed on the stage during the whole of is a subject of regret, that the lives of the play; and as the time they could virtuous men, and the history of hon- remain was limited, so necessarily was ourable families, however written, have the duration of the action. The disad not oftener been preserved. It is not vantages of this arrangement are suffialone the intrigues of the statesman, ciently obvious; for, besides that unnator the exploits of the warrior, that ural restriction, it is the chief cause why deserve to be transmitted to posterity: the Greek tragedy is so barren in inciit is much more in the native fresh- dent, and, not unfrequently, so deficient ness of narratives such as those to in interest ; and it is mere pedantry in which I allude, it is in the minute modern critics to demand, that writers ness of personal detail which they sup- in these days should comply with rules ply, beyond the sphere of history, that arose out of necessity, not choice; that we must look for an acquaintance for it must be remembered, that trawith the true character of past ages. gedy was ingrafted on the chorus, not I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, the chorus on tragedy.

CANDIDUS. This species of composition, which

has been the delight of so many counIn Vit. Agricol, sub init trics and so many ages, had its origin in an annual festival of Bacchus. Dure' him if he had no children, for if his ing the vintage it was customary to queen bore him a son, that son would be sacrifice a he-goat on the altar of that his murderer. Some time afterwards a deity, and, at the same time, to chant son was born, and to avoid the accomhymns in his honour. Suitably to plishment of the prediction, he was the genius of the Greek mythology, exposed, taken up and educated by the that delighted in the innocent pleasures wife of a shepherd as her own child, of its votaries, this was a season of joy and, when he grew to manhood, emand festivity; and, for the amusement ployed in the simple occupations of of the vintagers, to the original ode a the pastoral life. His name was Edishort dialogue, historical or mytholo- pus. One of his fellow shepherds gical, was added. To this origin even reproached him with the circumstances the name bears testimony, which means of his birth, of which he had not benothing more than the song of the goat. fore been informed, and this so roused

As in my last paper I brought into his curiosity to discover his real parents, one view the Choephoræ of Æschylus that, with this view, he went to conand the Electra of Sophocles, because sult the oracle at Delphi, and on his their subject is the same, for a simi- way met a stranger, whom he quarlar reason I shall now contrast “ The relled with and slew.

This was no Seven Chiefs at Thebes" and “ The other than his father Laius. Phenician Women.” Nothing seems to About this time the neighbourhood be so rare, as the invention of a story at of Thebes was infested by a monster once so probable as to impress us with called a Sphinx, who proposed enigan idea of its reality, and so full of mas to the inhabitants, and devoured extraordinary events and sudden re- them if unable to explain them. Joverses, as to swell the soul with that casta, alarmed by the ravages made delightful interest, without which the by this horrible creature, offered her works of fiction are a dead letter. The hand, and the crown of Thebes, to tragic writers, from Æschylus to any one who should solve the riddle, Shakespeare and Racine, aware of the as it was understood that the death difficulty, have contented themselves of the Sphinx was to follow. In this with selecting from history, or the le Edipus succeeded, and became the gendary tales of a period anterior to husband of his mother, and the king it, such subjects as they thought most of Thebes. From this connexion suitable to tragedy. But though they sprung two sons, Eteocles and Polyhave no other merit in the ground, nices, and two daughters, Antigone work of their dramas than judicious and Ismene. The curse of Heaven selection, enough is left to the genius was supposed to hang over a family of the poet in the magic touches, at produced by this incestuous interwhich materials in themselves coarse course, and its final extinction is the and uninteresting rise in harmony subject of these plays. When Ediand beauty, like the temple from the pus made the horrible discovery, he shapeless masses of the


was so shocked, that in a paroxysm of The misfortunes of the heroes of madness he tore out his eyes and ancient tragedy often arose out of an cursed his children. He retired from idea of fatalism, which, as it extenuates the government; and his sons, that their guilt, so it heightens our sym- they might avoid the fatal consequences pathy. In the Choephoræ and Electra, of his imprecations, agreed to reign alOrestes is hurried on to the murder of ternately, each an year. Eteocles, his mother, not more by the instiga- who was allowed precedence as the eltion of his sister than the commands dest, when his year expired, refused of Apollo. In the disasters of the fa- to relinquish the honours of royalty to mily of Edipus, on which so many of his brother, who, enraged at this viothe Greek plays were founded, -and, lation of the solemn agreement, retired among the rest, those I am now to to Argos, and married the daughter of Aanalyze, all is the work of fate. drastus, king of that city, whom he in

Laius, king of Thebes, was married duced to aid him with a great army in to Jocasta. From this union there the recovery of his natural rights. The was no issue, and Laius, anxious for a Seven Chiefs, or the Siege of Thebes, son to inherit his kingdom, went to as it might have been named, is foundconsult the oracle of Apollo. The res- ed on the expedition of the Argive ponse was, that it would be happy for army against that city, in support of


the claims of Polynices. The alarm The din of war is hastening on, of the inhabitants of Thebes, express

And the shields are faining in the sun ; ed by the Chorus—the description of Who may with such a host contend ? the chiefs--the assault of the besieging Look on us prostrate in the dust,

the walls we love defend ? army—the cessation of hostilities and we in your altars place our trust a single combat between the brothers, To them our spirits fondly cling, in which both fall, are the leading While your statues are o'ershadowing incidents.

What shall become of us ! Do you not hear In the Seven Chiefs, the first scene The clang of many a shield, and many a discovers Eteocles lamenting the cares and the difficulties of government, and Thy people, Mars, wilt thou betray, animating the people to the defence of And give them to the foeman's rage ? the city. A messenger comes in, and Oh! shall this city pass away, gives a description of the leaders of Thy chosen in a long past age ?

Thy well-beloved people perish, the invading army, in language at once Whom thou so long hast deign'd to cherish ? so sublime and so tender, that though God of the golden helm and mighty hand, it is rather an epic than a dramatic Oh! look upon thy favoured land. beauty, as indeed are many of the Ye gods ! the Theban maidens free finest of this play, I cannot deny my- From banishment and slavery ; self the pleasure of laying it before my For round the city rolls a tide readers.

Of warriors in plumed pride, The impetuous leaders of the Argive host In fury driven from afar, Are sacrificing bulls upon the altars,

By the tempestuous gales of war.
And in the hollow of their shields receive

Oh, Jupiter! our guardian be,
The blood, in which they dip their hands, The Argives throng around the gates,

And save us from captivity.
and swear

And murder on their steps awaits ; By Pury, Mars, and murder-loving Terror, Either to make of Thebes a heap of ashes, And the trampling steed, and the piercing Or with life's purest currents dye her soil;


And all the horrors of war are near ; And hang, upon the chariot of Adrastus, Memorials of themselves, and send them for the seven chiefs are leading them on, home

And the work of destruction is begun.” To their loved parents, and their wives and children:

« The rolling chariots are nigh, The tears of nature glisten in their eyes,

And the lances are maddening in the sky: Fierce as they are ; yet does their voice re- My country! how I weep for thee, lent not;

In the hour of thy calamity !" Their steely souls are hot, and breathing

And in a succeeding ode the same fury, Like lions, from whose eyes the battle flames.” subject is continued :

A song of the Chorus succeeds, Sleep flies from my eyelids, fear lives in strongly descriptive of the terror and My cares are consuming, and never depart;

my heart, distraction that prevail in a besieged As the delicate dove that sits close in her nest, city. The army is seen approaching To guard, with her pinions and down of her in the distance.

breast, “ My sinking soal is stricken with fear, From the coil and the sting of the snake For the hour of sorrow and death is near.

that is near, The heavy clouds of dust that rise,

Her offspring, that to her than life are more Though dumb, bear tidings through the

dear; skies,

So I fear lest these armies our walls that sur. That the dreaded foe has struck his tent,

round, And is rushing onward, on ruin bent. May level our temples and towers with the Afar the steeds, seen dimly, fly

ground. Like creatures coming through the sky; See! in wrath they are coming-oh! where And beyond is a dark and thickening host, shall I fly, Like the troubled waves of ocean tost. From the stones and the arrows that boom The sounds of arms and hoofs I hear,

through the sky ? A mingled murmur in my ear;

Ye gods ! who from Jove the almighty deBut soon shall they in thunder break,

scend, And the dreamer from his visions wake, This city and people, these temples, defend. With the voice of many waters from the hills, To what lands can ye go that are blooming When the rains to torrents swell the rills.

so fair ? Ye gods! whose power is over all,

To what streams or what fountains that once By whom the cities rise and fall,

may compare Oh! hear a wretched people's cries, With the waters of Dirce, so cool and so clear, And send protection from the skies. So rich in their flow, and to fancy so dear;

« AnteriorContinuar »