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instructed teachers, whose hearts and understandings were estranged and debased by the illapses of the wildest enthusiasm, the liberty of the people was all but extinguished, and the bonds of society nearly dissolved. Revolting as all this is to the Patriot, it affords fertile materials to the Poet. As to the beauty of the deliveation presented to the reader in this tale, there is, we believe, but one opinion: and we are persuaded that the more carefully and dispassionately it is .contemplated, the more perfect will it in
of fidelity and truth. We have given part of the evidence on which we say this, and we will again recur to the subject. The opinions and language of the honest party are detailed with the accuracy of a witness; and he who could open to our view the state of the Scottish peasantry, perishing in the field or on the scaffold, and driven to utter and just desperation, in attempting to defend their first and most sacred rights; who could place before our eyes the leaders of these enormilies, from the notorious Duke of Lauderdale downwards to the fellow mind that executed his behest, precisely as they lived and looked, --such a chronicler cannot justly be charged with attempting to extenuate or throw into the shade the corruptions of a go vernment that soon afterwards fell a victim to its own follies and crimes.
Independently of the delineation of the manners and characters of the times to which the story refers, it is impossible to avoid noticing, as a separate excellence, the faithful representation of general nature. Looking not merely to the litter of novels that peep out for a single day from the mud where they were spawned, but to many of more ambitious pretensions—it is quite evident that in framing them, the authors have first addressed themselves to the involutions and developement of the story, as the principal object of their attention; and that in entangling and unravelling the plot, in combining the incidents which compose it, and even in depicting the characters, they sought for assistance chiefly in the writings of their predecessors. Baldness, and uniformity, and inanity are the inevitable results of this slovenly and unintellectual proceeding. The volume which this author has studied is the great book of Nature. He has gone abroad into the world in quest of what the world will certainly and abundantly supply, but what a man of great discrimination alone will find, and a man of the very highest genius will alone depict after he has discovered it. The characters of Shakspeare are not more exclusively human, not more perfectly men and women as they live and move, than those of this mysterious author. It is from this circumstance that, as we have already observed, many of his personages are supposed to be sketched from real life. He must
have mixed much and variously in the society of his native country; his studies must have familiarized him to systems of manners now forgotten; and thus the persons of his drama, though in truth the creatures of his own imagination, convey the impression of individuals who we are persuaded must exist, or are evoked from their graves in all their original freshmess, entire in their lineaments, and perfect in all the minute peculiarities of dress and demeanour. The work now more immediately under our consideration is accordingly equally remarkable" for the truth and the endless variety of its characters, The stately and pompous dignity of Lady Margaret Bellenden, absorbed in the coning their substance, with her variations of fortune;—the true Caledonian prudence of Neil Blane ;—we cannot stay to examine, nor point out with what exquisite skill their characteristic features are brought to the reader's eye, not by description or enumeration, but by compelling him, as in real life, to observe their effect when forced into contact with the peculiarities of others. The more prominent personages it would be superfluous to notice. We must be pardoned, however, for offering one slight tribute of respect to the interesting old woman by whom Morton is directed to Burley's last retreat: she is portrayed as a patient, kind, gentle, and generous being, even in the lowest state of oppression, poverty and blivduess; her religious enthusiasm, unlike that of her sect, is impressed with the pure stamp of the Gospel, combining meekness with piety, and love to her neighbour with obedience and love of the Deity. And the author's knowledge of human natựre is well illustrated in the last glimpse he gives us of our early acquaintance, Jenny Dennison. When Morton returns from the continent, the giddy fille de chambre of Tillietudlem has become the wife of Cúddie Headrigg, and the mother of a large family. Every one must have observed that coquetry, whether in high or low life, is always founded on intense selfishness, which, as age advances, gradually displays itself in its true colours, and vanity gives way to avarice; and with perfect truth of representation, the lively, thoughtless girl has settled into a prudent housewife, whose whole cares are centered in herself, and in her husband and children, because they are her husband and children. Nor in this rapid and imperfect sketch can we altogether pass over the peculiar excellence of the dialogue. We do not allude merely to its dramatic merit, nor to the lively and easy tone of natural conversation by which it is uniformly distinguished: we would notice the singular skill and felicity with which, in conveying the genuine sentiments of the Scottish peasant in the genuine language of his native land, the G G4
author has avoided that appearance of grossness and vulgarity by which the success of every similar attempt has hitherto been defeated. The full value of this praise we, on this part of the island, cannot, perhaps, be expected to feel, though we are not wholly insensible to it. The Scottish peasant speaks the language of his native country, his national language, not the patois of an individual district; and in listening to it we not only do not experience even the slightest feeling of disgust or
or aversion, but our bosoms are responsive to every sentiment of sublimity, or awe, or terror which the author may be disposed to excite. Of the truth of all this, Meg Merrilies is a sufficiently decisive instance. The terrible graces of this mysterious personage, an outcast and profligate of the lowest class, are complete in their effect, though conveyed by the medium of language that has hitherto been connected with associations that must have altogether neutralized them. We could, with much satisfaction to ourselves, and much we fear to the annoyance of our patient readers, dilate on this part of the subject, and illustrate our views by quotations from some of the scenes that peculiarly struck ourselves; but we have trespassed much on their indulgence, and there is one not unimportant view we have still to open to them. This chiefly relates to the historical portraits with which the author has presented us. We propose to examine these somewhat in detail, and we trust the information we have collected from sources not often resorted to, may be an apology for the length of the Article,
Most of the group are drawn in harsh colours, and yet the truth of the resemblances, when illustrated by historical documents, will scarcely be disputed, except by those staunch partizans whose religious or political creed is the sole gauge for estimating the good or bad qualities of the characters of past ages. To such men an extensive knowledge of history is only the means of further perver, sion of its truth. The portraits of their favourites (as Queen Elizabeth is said to have required of her own) must be drawn without shadow, and the objects of their political antipathy be blackened, horned, hoofed, and clawed ere they will acknowledge the likeness of either. But if we are to idolize the memory of deceased men of worth and piety of our own persuasion, as if they had not been fallible mortals, it is in vain that we are converted from paganism, which transformed deceased heroes into deities; and if we damn ut terly the characters and motives of those who stood in opposition to their opinions, we have gained little by leaving the Church of Rome, in whose creed heresy includes every other possible guilt.
The most prominent portrait, historically considered, is that of John Grahame, of Claverhouse, afterwards Viscount of Dundee ; ..
and its accurate resemblance.can hardly be disputed, though those who only look at his cruelty towards the Presbyterians will consider bis courage, talents, high spirit, and loyal devotion to an unfortunate master, as ill associated with such evil attributes. They who study his life will have some reason to think that a mistaken opinion of the absolute obedience due by an officer to his superiors, joined to unscrupulous ambition, was the ruling principle of many of his worst actions. Yet he was not uniformly so ruthless as he is painted in the Tales. In some cases he interceded for the life of those whom he was ordered to put to death; and particularly, he pleaded hard with Sir James Johnstone, of Westerhall, for the life of one Hyslop, shot on Eskdale moor. It appears also, from his correspondence with Lord Lithgow, that he was attentive to his prisoners, as he apologizes for not bringing one of them, who laboured under a disease rendering it painful for him to be on horseback. . From the following anecdote it would seem that his activity against the Whigs did not always correspond with the wishes of those in power:
The Thesr. Queensberry having taken some disgust at Claverhouse, for not being so, actite against the Whigs as he ought, (they having killed two men, and made one Mr. Shaw, a minister, swear never to preach under bishops,) orders his brother, Colonel Douglas, to take two hundred men of his regiment and attack the rebels. But having one day with a party of his men met with as many of the rebels in a house, they killed two of his men and Captain Urquhart Meldrum’s brother, and was near being shot himself, had not a Whig's carabine misgiven, (the more pity, considering what a vile traitor the Colonel after proved to King James VII.), that Douglas therefore shot the said Whig, January, 1685.- Fountainhall's MS. Diary. Something is also to be given to the exaggeration of political and polemical hatred. For example, John Brown of Muirkirk is, in Wodrow's history, said to have been shot by Claverhouse with his own hand. But in the Life of Peden, which gives a minute and interesting account of this execution, the particulars whereof the author had from the unfortunate widow, we are expressly told that Brown was shot by a file of soldiers, Claverhouse looking on and commanding. Enough will, however, remain, after every possible deduction, to stigmatize Claverhouse during this earlier part of his military career, as a fierce and savage officer; the ready executioner of the worst commands of his superiors, forgetting that no 'officer is morally justifiable in the execution of cruelty and oppression, however the commands of his superiors may be his warrant in an 'earthly court of justice: for the alternative of surrendering his commission being at all times in his power, he who voluntarily continues in a service where such things are exacted at his
hand, hand, cannot be judged otherwise than as one who prefers profes sional advancement and private interest to good faith, justice, and honour. But there are circumstances in Grahame's subsequent conduct which have gilded over cruelties that, we shall presently shew, belonged as much to the age as to the man, and they have been glossed over, if not extenuated, by the closing scenes of his life.
During the general desertion of James II. Claverhouse, then Visconnt of Dundee, remained inalienably firm to bis benefactor. In his personal expenses he had been a rigid economist, but he was profuse of his fortune when it could aid the cause of his misguided prince. When James had disbanded his army, and was about to take the last and desperate step of leaving Britain, Claverhouse withstood it. He maintained, that the army, though disembodied, was not so dispersed but that they could be again assembled; and he offered to collect them under the king's standard, and to give battle to the Dutch.* Disappointed in this enterprize by the pusillanimity of the king, he did not desert his sinking cause. He fought his cause in the convention of estates in Scotland; and Gually retreating to the Highlands, raised the clans in his defence. No name is yet so loved and venerated among the Highlanders as that of Dundee, and the influence which he had been able to acquire over the minds of this keen-spirited and aboriginal race is of itself sufficient to prove his talents. Sir John Dalrymple has idly represented him as studying their ancient poetry, and heating his enthusiasm with their ancient traditions. The truth is, that Dundee did not even understand their language, and never learned above a few words of it. His ascendancy over them was acquired by his superior talents and the art which he possessed of managing minds inferior to his own. He fell in the moment of a most decided victory, gained over troops superior to his owu in number, in equipment, in military skill, in every thing but the valour and activity of the soldiers and the military talents of the general. Few men have left to posterity a character so strikingly varied. It is not shaded --it is not even chequered—it is on the one side purely heroic, on the other, cruel, savage and sanguinary. The old story of the gold and silver shield is but a type of the character of Claverhouse ; and partizans on either side may assail or defend his character with as good faith as the knights in the fable. The minstrels have not been silent on the occasion, and the censure of the amiable Grahame
may be well contrasted with the classical epitaph of Pitcairn. Claverhouse is the only cavalier of importance upon whom our author has dwelt, though he has touched slightly on Sir John Dalzell
See Mac Pherson's State Papers.