Imágenes de páginas

government. The Barham sailed from Portsmouth on the 29th of October, and reached Malta on the 22nd of November. Sir Walter went on shore, but re-embarked in the Barham on the 14th of December, arriving at Naples on the 17th. In this delightful place he spent the winter; and having visited Rome and Venice in April, 1832, he set out on his return to England through Germany. Sailing down the Rhine, he embarked in an English steamboat at Rotterdam on the 11th of June, and reached London on the 13th. During the journey home the illustrious invalid suffered from a severe attack of apoplexy, combined with paralysis, and it was evident to all that his life was drawing to a close.

In London he received the greatest attention and the best of medical advice; but he had fallen into a stupor, from which he could with difficulty be aroused even for a few moments. Whenever a transient gleam of consciousness was vouchsafed to him, all his hopes seemed centred upon returning to Abbotsford; and accordingly, on the 7th of July he embarked on board the James Watt steamer, and soon after reached his much-loved home. The sight of the old familiar place seemed to act upon him like enchantment. Sir Walter suddenly shook off his stupor, and could with difficulty be restrained from leaping out of the carriage. On the morning after his arrival he awoke perfectly conscious, and his relations and attendants began to hope that his health might be restored. He was wheeled round his grounds in a Bath chair; listened with delight to passages from his favourite authors; and on one occasion took his seat at his desk, and seized his pen. This was the last effort: the quill fell from his senseless fingers; and it was a sad blow, for the magician felt that his power had departed.

For many weeks Sir Walter lingered in a state of hopeless decay. The body retained some sparks of life, but the light of the mind was extinguished. Death at last came to release the sufferer, and at half-past one in the afternoon of the 21st of September, 1832, Sir Walter Scott expired almost without a struggle. His remains were buried in the Abbey of Dryburgh on the 26th.

Several statues have been erected to his memory,

and one in particular, in the market-place of Selkirk, bearing this inscription: :






FROM 1800 TO 1832.

By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettricke break,
Although it chill my withered cheek."

Sir Walter Scott is undoubtedly the most remarkable writer that figures in the literary annals of the nineteenth century. As a poet, historian, novelist, and critic, he achieved a lofty reputation; and if his productions in each department are not superior to those of all his contemporaries, they possess merits that. entitle them to a high rank. In romantic fiction he is altogether without even a rival. Sir Walter is the true successor of Fielding and Smollett, and to their knowledge of character and deep insight into the human heart, he added a power of describing the magnificent scenery of his native land, and an aptness for historical illustration, peculiarly his own. In this volume are enshrined those poems which first introduced him to the public, and upon which the pillars of his fame may be said to rest. These exquisite pictures of the manners and customs of a past age, freely interspersed with glowing descriptions of the bold romantic scenery of Scotland, enriched by traditions that still cling to many a noted spot or ruin, rank amongst the choicest treasures of English literature. The lapse of nearly half a century has confirmed the favourable verdict with which they were at first received; and amid changes of taste and new systems of poesy, these charming productions maintain their superiority, and are still sought for and studied by all classes of the community.

London, May 30, 1857.

G. H. T.




A Poem.


"Dum relego, scripsisse pudet; quia plurima cerno, Me coque, qui feci, judice, digna lini."







THE Poem now offered to the Public is intended to illustrate the customs and manners, which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. The inhabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes highly susceptible of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery and manners was more the object of the Author, than a combined and regular narrative, the plan of the ancient metrical romance was adopted, which allows greater latitude, in this respect, than would be consistent with the dignity of a regular poem. The same model offered other facilities, as it permits an occasional alteration of measure, which, in some degree, authorizes the changes of rhythm in the text. The machinery also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed puerile in a poem, which did not partake of the rudeness of the old Ballad, or Metrical Romance.

For these reasons, the Poem was put into the mouth of an ancient Minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original model. The date of the tale itself is about the middle of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages actually flourished. The time occupied by the action is three nights and three days.


THE way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His withered cheek, and tresses grey,
Seemed to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy:
The last of all the Bards was he,
Who sung of Border chivalry;
For, well-a-day! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them, and at rest.
No more, on prancing palfrey borne,
He carolled, light as lark at morn;
No longer, courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He poured, to lord and lady gay,

The unpremeditated lay:

Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A stranger filled the Stuarts' throne;

The bigots of the iron time

Had called his harmless art a crime.

A wandering harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door;
And tuned, to please a peasant's ear,
The harp a King had loved to hear.

He passed where Newark's a stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower:
The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye-
No humbler resting-place was nigh.

With hesitating step, at last,

The embattled portal-arch he passed,
Whose ponderous grate, and massy bar,
Had oft rolled back the tide of war,

a Newark Castle on the Yarrow, near Selkirk. The ruins of this old border fortress may still be seen. It was probably built by the first earl of Douglas. This was the birth-place of Anne, first duchess of Monmouth and Buccleuch.

« AnteriorContinuar »