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BULLER. My dear sir-it will not be evan
NORTH. And withal such Devils! But I have given them carte blanche.
SEWARD. Nor will they abuse it. NORTH. I wonder when they sleep. Each has his own dormitory-the cluster forming the left wing of the Camp-but Deeside is not seldom broad awake till midnight; and though I am always up and out by six at the latest, never once have I caught a man of them napping, but either there they are each more blooming than the other, getting ready their gear for a start; or, on sweeping the Loch with my glass, I see their heads, like wild-duck-swimming-round Rabbit Island -as some wretch has baptized Inishail-or away to Inistrynish-or, for anything I know, to Port-Sonachan-swimming for a Medal given by the Club! Or there goes Gutta Percha by the Pass of Brandir, or shooting away into the woods near Kilchurn. Twice have they been on the top of Cruachanonce for a clear hour, and once for a dark day-the very next morning, Marmaduke said, they would have "some more mountain," and the Four Cloud-compellers swept the whole range of Ben Bhuridh and BeinLurachan as far as the head of Glensrea. Though they said nothing about it, I heard of their having been over the hills behind us, t'other night, at Cairndow at a wedding. Why, only think, sirs, yesterday they were off by daylight to try their luck in Loch Dochart, and again I heard their merriment soon after we had retired. They must have footed it above forty miles. That Cornwall Clipper will be their death. And off again this morning-all on foot-to the Black Mount.
BULLER. For what?
NORTH. By permission of the Marquis, to shoot an Eagle. She is said to be again on egg-and to cliff-climbers her eyrie is within rifle-range. But let us forget the Boys, as they have forgot us.
SEWARD. The Loch is calmer to-day, sir, than we have yet seen it; but the calm is of a different character from yesterday's-that was serene, this is solemn-I had almost said austere. Yesterday there were few clouds; and such was the prevailing power of all those lovely woods on the islands, and along the mainland shores-that the whole reflection seemed sylvan. When gazing on such a sight, does not our feeling of the unrealities--the shadows-attach to the realities the substances? So that the living trees-earth-rooted, and growing upwards
become almost as visionary as their inverted semblances in that commingling clime? Or is it that the life of the trees gives life to the images, and imagination believes that the whole, in its beauty, must belong, by the same law, to the same world?
NORTH. Let us understand, without seeking to destroy, our delusions; for has not this life of ours been wisely called the dream of a shadow?
SEWARD. To-day there are many clouds, and aloft they are beautiful; nor is the light of the sun not, most gracious; but the repose of all that downward world affects me-I know not why-with sadness-it is beginning to look almost gloomy--and I seem to see the hush not of sleep, but of death. There is not the unboundaried expanse of yesterday--the loch looks narrower-and Cruachan closer to us, with all his heights. BULLER. I felt a drop of rain on the back my hand.
SEWARD. It must have been, then, from your nose. There will be no rain this week. But a breath of air there is somewhere-for the mirror is dimmed, and the vision gone.
NORTH. The drop was not from his nose, Seward, for here are three-and clear, pure drops too--on my Milton. I should not be at all surprised if we were to have a little rain.
SEWARD. Odd enough. I cannot conjecture where it comes from. It must be dew.
BULLER. Who ever heard of dew dropping in large fat globules at meridian on a summer's day? It is getting very close and sultry. The interior must be, as Wordsworth says, "Like a Lion's den." Did you whisper, sir?
NORTH. No. But something did. Look at the silver, Buller.
BULLER. Thermometer 85. Barometer I can say nothing about-but that it is very low indeed. A long way below Stormy.
NORTH. What color would you call that glare about the Crown of Cruachan? Yellow?
SEWARD. You may just as well call it yellow as not. I never saw such a color before-and don't care though I never see such again-for it is horrid. That is aGlare.
NORTH. Cowper says grandly, "A terrible sagacity informs
The Poet's heart; he looks to distant storms; He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers."
He is speaking of tempests in the moral
world. You know the passage-it is a fine one-so indeed is the whole Epistle-TableTalk. I am a bit of a Poet myself in smelling thunder. Early this morning I set it down for mid-day-and it is mid-day now. BULLER. Liker Evening.
NORTH. Dimmish and darkish, certainly; but unlike Evening. I pray you look at the Sun.
BULLER. What about him? NORTH. Though unclouded he seems shrouded in his own solemn light-expecting thunder.
BULLER. There is not much motion among the clouds.
NORTH. Not yet. Merely what in Scotland we call a carry; yet that great central mass is double the size it was ten minutes ago-the City Churches are crowding round the Cathedral, and the whole assemblage lies under the shadow of the Citadel-with battlements and colonnades at once Fort and Temple. BULLER. Still some blue sky. Not very much. But some.
NORTH. Cruachan! you are changing
and hands, and would be through stone walls.
NORTH. Each flash has, of course, a thunder-clap of its own-if we knew where to look for it; but, to our senses, all connection between cause and effect is lost-such incessant flashings-and such multitudinous outbreaks-and such a continuous roll of outrageous echoes!
BULLER. Coruscation-explosion--are but feeble words.
NORTH. The Cathedral's on fire.
BULLER. I don't mind so much those wide flarings among the piled clouds, as these gleams-oh!
NORTH. Where art thou, Cruachan? Ay methinks I see thee-methinks I do not thy Three Peaks may not pierce the masses that now oppress thee-but behind the broken midway clouds, those black purple breadths of solid earth are thine-thine those unmistakeable Cliffs thine the assured beauty of that fearless Forest-and may the lightning scathe not one single tree!
BULLER. Nor man.
NORTH. This is your true total Eclipse of the Sun. Day, not night, is the time for
NORTH. The Loch's like ink. I could dip thunder and lightning. Night can be dark my pen in it.
SEWARD. We are about to have thunder. NORTH. Weather-wise wizard we are. That mutter was thunder. In five seconds you will hear some more. One--two-three -four--there; that was a growl. I call that good growling-sulky, sullen, savage growling, that makes the heart of Silence quake. SEWARD. And mine.
NORTH. What? Dying away! Some incomprehensible cause is turning the thunderous masses round towards Appin.
SEWARD. And I wish them a safe journey. NORTH. All right. They are coming this way-all at once-the whole Thunder-storm. Flash-roar.
"Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;
Who but Willy could have said that?
NORTH. How can you, with that Flying Dutchman over your eyes?
BULLER. I gave him my handkerchieffor at this moment I know his head is like to rend. I wish I had kept it to myself; but no use the lightning is seen through lids
of itself, nay, cannot help it; but when Day grows black, then is the blackness of darkness in the Bright One terrible; and terror -Burke said well-is at the heart of the sublime. The Light, such as it is, sets off the power of the lightning-it pales to that flashing-and is forgotten in Fire. It smells
SEWARD. It is constitutional in the Sewards. North, I am sick.
NORTH. Give way to gasping-and lie down-nothing can be done for you. The danger is not
SEWARD. I am not afraid-I am faint.
NORTH. You must speak louder, if you expect to be heard by ears of clay. Peals is not the word. "Peals on peals redoubled" is worse. There never was-and never will be a word in any language-for all that.
BULLER. Unreasonable to expect it. Try twenty-in twenty languages.
NORTH. Buller, you may count ten individual deluges-besides the descent of three at hand-conspicuous in the general Rain, which without them would be Rain sufficient for a Flood. Now the Camp has it, and let us enter the Pavilion. I don't think there is much wind here; yet far down the black Loch is silently whitening with waves like breakers; for here the Rain alone rules, and its rushing deadens the retiring thunder.
The ebbing thunder! Still louder than any sea on any shore; but a diminishing loudness, though really vast, seems quelled; and, losing its power over the present, imagination follows it not into the distant region where it may be raging as bad as ever. Buller?
NORTH. How's Seward?
ing breast-and the Cattle are grazing, and galloping, and lowing on the hills-and the furred folk, who are always dry, come out from the crevices for a mouthful of the fresh air; and the whole four-footed creation are jocund-are happy!
BULLER. What a picture!
NORTH. And the Fowls of the Air-think ye not the Eagle, storm-driven not unalarmed along that league-long face of cliff, is now glad at heart, pruning the wing that shall carry him again, like a meteor, into the sub
SEWARD. Much better. It is very, very kind of you, my dear sir, to carry me in your arms, and place me in your own Swingchair. The change of atmosphere has re-sided skies? vived me-but the Boys?
NORTH. The Boys-why, they went to the Black Mount to shoot an eagle, and see a thunder-storm, and long before this they have had their heart's desire. There are caves, Seward, in Buachail-Mor; and one recess I know—not a cave-but grander far than any cave-near the Fall of Eas-a-Bhrogich-far down below the bottom of the Fall, which in its long descent whitens the sable cliffs. Thither leads a winding access no storm can shake. In that recess you sit rock-surrounded but with elbow-room for five hundred men-and all the light you have and you would not wish for morecomes down upon you from a cupola far nearer heaven than that hung by Michael Angelo.
SEWARD. The Boys are safe.
BULLER. What it is to have an imagina-
BULLER. Not possible. Strictly entailed.
NORTH. And the little wren flits out from the back-door of her nest-too happy she to sing-and in a minute is back again with a worm in her mouth, to her half-score gaping babies-the sole family in all the dell. And the sea-mews, sore against their will driven seawards, are returning by ones and twos, and thirties, and thousands, up Loch-Etive, and, dallying with what wind is still alive above the green transparency, drop down in successive parties of pleasure on the silver sands of Ardmatty, or lured onwards into the still leas of Glenliver, or the profounder quietude of the low mounds of Dal
SEWARD. My fancy is contented to feed on what is before my eyes.
NORTH. Or the lone house of Dalness has received them-hospitable now as of yore-ness. or the Huntsman's hut-or Shepherd's shieling that word I love, and shall use it now -though shieling it is not, but a comfortable cottage-and the dwellers there fear not the thunder and the lightning-for they know they are in His hands—and talk cheerfully in the storm.
SEWARD. Over and gone. How breathable the atmosphere!
NORTH. In the Forests of the Marquis and of Monzie, the horns of the Red-deer are again in motion. In my mind's eye-Harry I see one-an enormous fellow-bigger than the big stag of Benmore himself-and not to be so easily brought to perform, by particular desire, the part of Moriens-giving himself a shake of his whole huge bulk, and a caive of his whole wide antlery-and then leading down from the Corrie, with Platonic affection, a herd of Hinds to the greensward islanded among brackens and heather-a spot equally adapted for feed, play, rumination, and sleep. And the Roes are glinting through the glades-and the Fleece are nibbling on the mountain's glitter
BULLER. Doff, then, the Flying Dutchman. NORTH. And thousands of Rills, on the first day of their apparent existence, are all happy too, and make me happy to look on them leaping and dancing down the rocksand the River Etive rejoicing in his strength, from far Kingshouse all along to the end of his journey, is happiest of them all; for the storm that has swollen has not discolored him, and with a pomp of clouds on his breast, he is flowing in his expanded beauty into his own desired Loch.
SEWARD. Gaze with me, my dear sir, on what lies before our eyes.
NORTH. The Rainbow!
BULLER. Four miles wide, and half a mile broad.
NORTH. Thy Own Rainbow, Cruachanfrom end to end.
SEWARD. Is it fading-or is it brightening?-no, it is not fading--and to brighten is impossible. It is the beautiful at perfection-it is dissolving-it is gone.
BULLER. I asked you, sir, have the Poets well handled Thunder?
NORTH. I was waiting for the Rainbow. Many eyes besides ours are now regarding it many hearts gladdened-but have you not often felt, Seward, as if such apparitions came at a silent call in our souls-that we might behold them-and that the hour-or the moment was given to us alone! So have I felt when walking alone among the great solitudes of Nature.
SEWARD. Lochawe is the name now for a dozen little lovely lakes! For, lo! as the vapors are rising, they disclose, here a bay that does not seem to be a bay, but complete in its own encircled stillness-there a bare grass island-yes, it is Inishail-with a shore of mists-and there, with its Pines and Castle, Freoch, as if it were Loch Freoch, and not itself an Isle. Beautiful bewilderment! but of our own creating!for thus Fancy is fain to dally with what we love-and would seek to estrange the familiar as if Lochawe in its own simple grandeur were not all-sufficient for our gaze.
BULLER. Let me try my hand. No-no -no-I can see and feel, have an eye and a heart for Scenery, as it is called, but am no hand at a description. My dear, sweet, soft-breasted, fair-fronted, bright-haired, delightful Cruachan - thy very name, how liquid with open vowels-not a consonant among them all-no Man-Mountain ThouThou art the LADY OF THE LAKE. I am in love with Thee-Thou must not think of retiring from the earth-Thou must not take the veil-off with it-off with it from those glorious shoulders-and come, in all Thy loveliness, to my long-my longing arms!
SEWARD. Is that the singing of larks? NORTH. No larks live here. The laverock is a lowland bird, and loves our brairded fields and our pastoral braes; but the Highland monntains are not for him-he knows by instinct that they are hauntedthough he never saw the shadow nor heard the sugh of the eagle's wing.
SEWARD. The singing from the woods seems to reach the sky. They have utterly forgotten their fear; or think you, sir, that birds know that what frightened them is gone, and that they sing with intenser joy because of the fear that kept them mute?
NORTH. The lambs are frisking--and the sheep staring placidly at the Tents. I hear the hum of bees-returned--and returning from their straw-built Citadels. In the primal hour of his winged life, that wavering butterfly goes by in search of the sunshine
that meets him; and happy for this generation of ephemerals that they first took wing on the afternoon of the day of the Great Storm.
BULLER. How have the Poets, sir, handled thunder and lightning? NORTH.
Sæpe ego, cum flavis messorem induceret arvis
BULLER. You recite well, sir, and Latin better than English-not so sing-songyand as sonorous: then Virgil, to be sure, is fitter for recitation than any Laker of you all
NORTH. I am not a Laker-I am a
NORTH. That means the Tweed and the Dee? Content. One might have thought, Buller, that our Scottish Critics would have been puzzled to find a fault in that strain
BULLER. It is faultless; but not a Scotch critic worth a curse but yourself
NORTH. I cannot accept a compliment at the expense of all the rest of my countrymen. I cannot indeed.
BULLER. Yes, you can.
NORTH. There was Lord Kames--a man of great talents-a most ingenious man-and with an insight
BULLER. I never heard of him-was he a Scotch Peer?
NORTH. One of the Fifteen. A strained elevation-says his Lordship-I am sure of the words, though I have not seen his Elements of Criticism for fifty years
BULLER. You are a creature of a wonderful memory.
NORTH. "A strained elevation is attended with another inconvenience, that the author is apt to fall suddenly, as well as the reader; because it is not a little difficult to descend
sweetly and easily from such elevation to the ordinary tone of the subject. The following is a good illustration of that observation" and then his Lordship quotes the passage I recited-stopping with the words "densissimus_imber," which are thus made to conclude the description!
himself one of the finest spirits that ever breathed on earth, says "I acknowledge, indeed, that the 'pluviâ ingenti sata læta, boumque labores diluit,' is defensible from the connection of the imagery with the subject of the poem ; but the implentur fossæ' is both an unnecessary and a degrading circumstance, when compared with the magni
the passage." In this quotation, too, the final grand line is inadvertently omitted
BULLER. Oh! oh! oh! That's murder. NORTH. In the description of a storm-ficent effects that are described in the rest of continues his Lordship" to figure Jupiter throwing down huge mountains with his thunderbolts, is hyperbolically sublime, if I may use the expression; the tone of mind produced by that image is so distinct from the tone produced by a thick shower of rain, that the sudden transition must be very unpleasant."
BULLER. Suggestive of a great-coat. That's the way to deal with a great Poet. Clap your hand on the Poet's mouth in its fervor shut up the words in mid-volleyand then tell him that he does not know how to descend sweetly and easily from strained elevation !
NORTH. Nor do I agree with his Lordship that" to figure Jupiter throwing down huge mountains with his thunderbolts is hyperbolically sublime." As a part for a whole is a figure of speech, so is a whole for a part. Virgil says, "dejicit;" but he did not mean to say that Jupiter "tumbled down" Athos, or Rhodope, or the Acroceraunean range. He knew-for he saw them that there they were in all their altitude after the storm-little, if at all, the worse. But Jupiter had struck-smittensplintered-rent-trees and rocks-midway or on the summits and the sight was terrific and "dejicit" brings it before our imagination, which not for a moment pictures the whole mountain tumbling down. But great Poets know the power of words, and on great occasions how to use them-in this case-one-and small critics will not suffer their own senses to instruct them in Poetry and hence the Elements of Criticism are not the Elements of Nature, and assist us not in comprehending the grandeur of reported storms.
BULLER. Lay it into them, sir.
NORTH. Good Dr. Hugh Blair again, who in his day had a high character for taste and judgment, agreed with Henry Home that "the transition is made too hastily-I am afraid from the preceding sublime images, to a thick shower and the blowing of the south wind, and shows how difficult it frequently is to descend with grace, without seeming to fall." Nay, even Mr. Alison
"Nunc nemora ingenti vento, nunc littora plangunt."
BULLER. I never read Hugh Blair—but I have read-often, and always with increased delight-Mr. Alison's exquisite Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste, and Lord Jeffrey's admirable exposition of the Theory-in statement so clear, and in illustration so rich-worth all the Esthetics of the Germans-Schiller excepted-in one Volume of Mist.
NORTH. Mr. Alison had an original as well as a fine mind; and here he seems to have been momentarily beguiled into mistake by unconscious deference to the judgment of men-in his province far inferior to himself whom in his modesty he admired. Mark. Virgil's main purpose is to describe the dangers-the losses to which the agriculturist is at all seasons exposed from wind and weather. And he sets them before us in plain and perspicuous language, not rising above the proper level of the didactic. Yet being a Poet he puts poetry into his description from the first and throughout. To say that the line "Et pluvia," &c. is "defensible from the connection of the imagery with the subject of the Poem" is not enough. It is necessitated. Strike it out and you abolish the subject. And just so with "implentur fossæ.' The "fossæ we know in that country were numerous and wide, and, when swollen, dangerous—and the “ cava flumina" well follow instantly-for the "fossa" were their feeders-and we hear as well as see the rivers rushing to the sea-and we hear too, as well as see, the sea itself. There the description ends. Virgil has done his work. But his imagination is moved, and there arises a new strain altogether. He is done with the agriculturists. And now he deals with man at large-with the whole human race. He is now a Boanerges-a son of thunder-and he begins with Jove. The sublimity comes in a moment. "Ipse Pater, mediâ nimborum in nocte”—and is sustain