« AnteriorContinuar »
“ Der Kønig sitzt in Dumfermling Schloss:
pair of convincing you in time, that a bad rhyme is, in fact, Er trinkt blutröthen Wein;
no rhyme at all. You desired me to point out my objections, Owo triff ich einen Segler gut
leaving you at liberty to make use of them or not; and so Dies Schiff zu segien mein?'"
have at Frederic and Alice.' Stanza 1st, ‘hies' and 'joys'
are not rhymes; the 1st stanza ends with joys ;' the 2d beIn like manner, the opening stanza of “Child Waters," and gins with joying.' In the 4th, there is too sudden a change many other Scottish ballads, fall as naturally and easily of tenses, flows' and 'rose.' 6th, 7th, and 8th, I like much. into the German habits and forms of speech, as if they had | 9th, Does not «ring his ears' sound ludicrous in yours? The originally been composed in that language:
first idea that presents itself is, that his ears were pulled; but
even the ringing of the ears does not please. 12th, “Shower' “ About Yule, when the wind was cule,
and roar,' not rhymes. Soil' and 'aisle,' in the 13th, are And the round tables began,
not much better; but 'head' and 'descried' arc execrable. O there is come to our king's court
In the 14th, 'bar' and 'stair' are ditto ; and 'groping' is a Mony weel favour'd man.'
nasty word. Vide Johnson, “He gropes his breeches with a “In Christmessfest, in winter kalt,
monarch's air.' In the 15171, you change your metre, which Als Tafel rund began,
has always an unpleasant effect; and 'safe' and 'receive' Da kam zu König's Hoff and Hall
rhyme just about as well as Scott and Lewis would. 16th, Manch wackrer Ritter an."
'within' and 'strain' are not rhymes. 17th, hear' and
'air,' not rhymes. 18th, Two metres are mixed; the same It requires only a smattering of both languages, to see at objection to the third line of the 19th. Observe that, in the what cheap expense, even of vocables and rhymes, the popu- Ballad, I do not always object to a variation of metre ; but lar poetry of the one may be transferred to the other. Hardly then it ought to increase the melody, whereas, in my opinion, any thing is more flattering to a Scottish student of German; in these instances it is diminished. it resembles the unexpected discovery of an old friend in a
“ THE CHASE.—12th, The 2d line reads very harshly; and foreign land.
choir' and 'lore' are not rhymes. 13th, ‘Rides' and 'side' are not rhymes. 30th, “ Pour' and obscure,' not rhymes. 40th, 'Spreads' and 'invades' are not rhymes. 46th, 'Rends' and 'ascend' are not rhymes.
“ WILLIAM AND HELEN.-In order that I may bring it Note D.
nearer the original title, pray introduce, in the first stanza,
the name of Ellenora, instead of Ellen. « Crusade' and EXTRACTS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF M, G. sped,' not rhymes in the 2d. 3d, 'Made' and 'shed' are not LEWIS.--P. 567.
rhymes; and if they were, come too close to the rhymes in the
2d. In the 4th, ‘Joy' and 'victory' are not rhymes. 7th, My attention was called to this subject, which is now of an The first line wants a verb, otherwise is not intelligible. 13th, old date, by reading the following passage in Medwin's "Ac- Grace' and 'bliss' are not rhymes. 14th, ‘Bale' and 'hell' count of Some Passages in Lord Byron's later Years." Lord are not rhymes. 18th, ‘Vain' and 'fruitless' is tautology ; Byron is supposed to speak. “When Waiter Scott began to and as a verb is wanted, the line will run better thus, ' And write poetry, which was not at a very early age, Monk Lewis vain is every prayer.' 19th, Is not to her absolutely necescorrected his verse: he understood little then of the mechani- sary in the 4th line? 20th, ' Grace' and 'bliss,' not rhymes. cal part of the art. The Fire King, in the Minstrelsy of the 21st, ‘Bale' and 'hell,' not rhymes. 22d, I do not like the Scottish Border,' was almost all Lewis's. One of the ballads word 'spent.' 23d, “O'er' and 'star' are vile rhymes. 26th, in that work, and, except some of Leyden's, perhaps one of A verb is wanted in the 4th line; better thus, ‘Then whispers the best, was made from a story picked up in a stage coach ; thus a voice.' 28th, Is not ‘Is't thou, my love?' better than I mean, that of Will Jones.'
My love! my love!' 31st, If'wight' means, as I conjecture,
'enchanted,' does not this let the cat out of the bag ? Ought • They boil'd Will Jones within the pot,
not the spur to be sharp rather than bright? In the 4th line, And not much fat had Will.'
* Stay' and 'day' jingle together: would it not be better, I “I hope Walter Scott did not write the review on Christa- must be gone e'er day?' 32d, Steed' and 'bed' are not bel;' for he certainly, in common with many of us, is indebted | rhymes. 34th, ' Bride' and 'bed,' not rhymes. 35th,' Seat' to Coleridge. But for him, perhaps, “The Lay of the Last and await,' not rhymes. 39th, “ Keep hold' and 'sit fast' Minstrel' would never have been thought of. The line, seem to my ear vulgar and prosaic. 40th, The 4th line is de
fective in point of English, and, indeed, I do not quite underJesu Maria shield thee welll'
stand the meaning. 43d, “ Arose' and 'pursues' are not Is word for word from Coleridge."
rhymes. 45th, I am not pleased with the epithet 'savage;' There are some parts of this passage extremely mistaken and the latter part of the stanza is, to me, unintelligible. and exaggerated, as generally attends any attempt to record 49th, Is it not closer to the original in line 3d to say, ' Swift what passes in casual conversation, which resembles, in diffi- ride the dead?' 50th, Does the rain 'whistle?' 55th, line culty, the experiments of the old chemists for fixing quick- 3d, Does it express, ' Is Helen afraid of them?' 59th, ' Door' silver.
and flower' do not rhyme together. 60th Scared' and The following is a specimen of my poor friend Lewis's criti- heard' are not rhymes. 63d, 'Bone' and 'skeleton' not cism on my juvenile attempts at ballad poetry; severe enough, rhymes. 64th, The last line sounds ludicrous; one fancies perhaps, but for which I was much indebted to him, as forc- the heroine coming down with a plump, and sprawling upon ing upon the notice of a young and careless author hints which her bottom. I have now finished my severe examination, and the said author's vanity made him unwilling to attend to, but pointed out every objection which I think can be suggested." which were absolutely necessary to any hope of his ultimate
6th January, 1799.
“WELLWYN, -99. Supposed 1799.
“ DEAR SCOTT, “ Thank you for your revised 'Glenfinlas.' I grumble, but " Your last Ballad reached me just as I was stepping into say no more on this subject, although I hope you will not be my chaise to go to Brocket Hall, (Lord Melbourne's, ) so I 30 inflexib at of your other Ballads; for I do not des- took it with me, and exhibited both that and Glenfinlas with
great success. I must not, however, conceal from sou, that i sitting at my side while I wrote it ; nor did my occupation nobody understood the Lady Flora of Glengyle to be a dis- prevent the circulation of the bottle. guised demon till the catastrophe arrived; and that the opi- Leyden wrote a Ballad for the Cloud King, which is mednion was universal, that some previous stanzas ought to be in- tioned in the ensuing extract. But it did not answer Mat's troduced descriptive of the nature and office of the wayward ideas, either the colour of the wings, or some point of cosLadies of the Wood. William Lambe, I too, (who writes good tume equally important; so Lewis, who was otherwise fond verses himself, and, therefore, may be allowed to judge those of the Ballad, converted it into the Elfin King, and wrote of other people,) was decidedly for the omission of the last a Cloud King himself, to finish the hierarchy in the way stanza but one. These were the only objections started. I desired. thought it as well that you should know them, whether you There is a leading mistake in the passage from Captain attend to them or not. With regard to St. John's Eve, I like Medwin. “ The Minstrelsy of the Border" is spoken of, but it much, and, instead of finding fault with its broken metre, what is meant is the “ Tales of Wonder." The former work I approve of it highly. I think, in this last Ballad, you have contains none of the Ballads mentioned by Mr. Medwin-the hit off the ancient manner better than in your former ones. latter has them all. Indeed, the dynasty of Elemental Glenfinlas, for example, is more like a polished tale, than an Kings were written entirely for Mr Lewis's publication. old Ballad. But why, in verse 6th, is the Baron's helmet My intimate friend, William Clerk, Esq. was the person hacked and he wed, if (as we are given to understand) he had who heard the legend of Bill Jones told in a mail-coach by a assassinated his enemy? Ought not tore to be torn? Tore sea captain, who imagined himself to have seen the ghost to Beems to me not English. In verse 16th, the last line is word which it relates. The tale was versified by Lewis himself. for word from Gil Morrice. 21st, • Floor' and 'bower' are not | 1 forget where it was published, but certainly in no miscellany rhymes," &c. &c. &c.
or publication of mine. The gentleman noticed in the following letter, as partaker I have only to add, in allusion to the passage I have quoted, in the author's heresies respecting rhyme, had the less occasion that I never wrote a word parodying either Mr. Coleridge or to justify such license, as his own have been singularly accu- any one else, which, in that distinguished instance, it would rate. Mr. Smythe is now Professor of Modern History at have been most ungracious in me to have done; for which the Cambridge.
reader will see reasons in the Introduction to “ The Law of
the Last Minstrel." “ LONDON, January 24, 1799.
“ LONDON, 31 February, 1800. “I must not omit telling you, for your own comfort, and
“ DEAR Scott, that of all such persons as are wicked enough to make bad “I return you many thanks for your Ballad, and the Exrhymes, that Mr. Smythe (a very clever man at Cambridge) tract, and I shall be very much obliged to your friend for the took great pains the other day to convince me, not merely that Cloud King.' I must, however, make one criticism upon a bad rhyme might pass, but that occasionally a bad rhyme the Stanzas which you sent me. The Spirit, being a wicked was better than a good one!!!!!! I need not tell you that he one, must not have such delicate wings as pale blue ones. He left me as great an infidel on this subject as he found me. has nothing to do with Heaven except to deface it with
storms; and therefore, in 'The Monk,'I have fitted him with « M. G. Lewis." a pair of sable pinions, to which I must request your friend to
adapt his Stanza. With the others I am much pleased, as I The next letter respects the Ballad called the “ Fire King," am with your Fire King; but every body makes the same stated by Captain Medwin to be almost all Lewis's. This is objection to it, and expresses a wish that you had conformed an entire misconception. Lewis, who was very fond of his your Spirit to the description given of him in • The Monk, idea of four elementary kings, had prevailed on me to supply a
where his office is to play the Will of the Wisp, and lead Fire King. After being repeatedly urged to the task, I sat travellers into bogs, &c. It is also objected to, his being redown one day after dinner, and wrote the “ Fire King," as it moved from his native land, Denmark, to Palestine; and that was published in the “ Tales of Wonder.” The next extract the office assigned to him in your Ballad has nothing pecugives an account of the manner in which Lewis received it, liar to the · Fire King,' but would have suited Arimanes, which was not very favourable ; but instead of writing the Beelzebub, or any other evil spirit, as well. However, tha greater part, he did not write a single word of it. Dr. Leyden. ! Ballad itself I think very pretty. I suppose you have heard now no more, and another gentleman who still survives, were
from Bell respecting the copies of the Ballads. I was too
much distressed at the time to write mysell," &c. &c. I Now Lord Melbourne.--ED.
“ M. GL"
« Ever yours,
mitations of the Ancient Ballad.
Chamas the Rhymer.
known and distinguished by the epithet, which be
had acquired by his personal accomplishments. I IN THREE PARTS.
must, however, remark, that, down to a very late poriod, the practice of distinguishing the parties, even in formal writings, by the epithets which had been bestowed on them from personal circumstances, in
stead of the proper sirnames of their families, was Few personages are so renowned in tradition as common, and indeed necessary, among the Border Thomas of Ercildoune, known by the appellation of clans. So early as the end of the thirteenth century The Rhymer. Uniting, or supposing to unite, in his when sirnames were hardly introduced in Scotland, person, the powers of poetical composition, and of va- this custom must have been universal. There is, ticination, his memory, even after the lapse of five therefore, nothing inconsistent in supposing our poet's hundred years, is regarded with veneration by his name to have been actually Learmont, although, in countrymen. To give any thing like a certain history this charter, he is distinguished by the popular appelof this remarkable man would be indeed difficult; but lation of The Rhymer. the curious may derive some satisfaction from the par- We are better able to ascertain the period at which ticulars here brought together.
Thomas of Ercildoune lived, being the latter end of It is agreed on all hands, that the residence, and the thirteenth century. I am inclined to place his probably the birthplace, of this ancient bard, was Er- death a little farther back than Mr. Pinkerton, who cildoune, a village situated upon the Leader, two supposes that he was alive in 1300, (List of Scottish miles above its junction with the Tweed. The ruins Pocts,) which is hardly, I think, consistent with the of an ancient tower are still pointed out as the Rhym- charter already quoted, by which his son, in 1299, for er's castle. The uniform tradition bears, that his sir- himself and his heirs, conveys to the convent of the name was Lermont, or Learmont; and that the ap- Trinity of Soltra, the tenement which he possessed by pellation of the The Rhymer was conferred on him in inheritance (hereditarie) in Ercildoune, with all claim consequence of his poetical compositions. There re- which he or his predecessors could pretend thereto. mains, nevertheless, some doubt upon the subject. In From this we may infer, that the Rhymer was now a charter, which is subjoined at length, the son of dead, since we find the son disposing of the family our poet designed himself “ Thomas of Ercildoun, son property. Still, however, the argument of the learned and heir of Thomas Rymour of Ercildoun,” which historian will remain unimpeached as to the time of seems to imply that the father did not bear the here the poet's birth. For if, as we learn from Barbour, ditary name of Learmont; or, at least, was better his prophecies were held in reputation ? as early as See Appendix, Note A.
“ I hope that Thomas's prophecie,
Of Erceldoun, shall truly bo, 2 The lines alluded to are these : -
In him," &c.
1306, when Bruce slew the Red Cummin, the sanc- composedly and slowly, parading the street of the tity, and (let me add to Mr. Pinkerton's words) the village. The prophet instantly arose, left his habitauncertainty of antiquity, must have already involved tion, and followed the wonderful animals to the forest, his character and writings. In a charter of Peter whence he was never seen to return. According to de flaga de Bemersyde, which unfortunately wants a the popular belief, he still“ drees his weird" in Fairy date, the Rhymer, a near neighbour, and, if we may Land, and is one day expected to revisit earth. In the trust tradition, a friend of the family, appears as a meanwhile, his memory is held in the most profound witness.-Chartulary of Melrose.
respect. The Eildon Tree, from beneath the shade of It cannot be doubted, that Thomas of Ercildoune which he delivered his prophecies, now no longer was a remarkable and important person in his own exists ; but the spot is marked by a large stone, called time, since, very shortly after his death, we find him Eildon Tree Stone. A neighbouring rivulet takes the celebrated as a prophet and as a poet. Whether he name of the Bogle Burn (Goblin Brook) from the himself made any pretensions to the first of these cha- Rhymer's supernatural visitants. The veneration paid racters, or whether it was gratuitously conferred upon to his dwelling-place even attached itself in some dehim by the credulity of posterity, it seems difficult to gree to a person, who, within the memory of man, decide. If we may believe Mackenzie, Learmont only chose to set up his residence in the ruins of Learversified the prophecies delivered by Eliza, an inspired mont's tower. The name of this man was Murray, a nun of a convent at Haddington. But of this there kind of herbalist; who, by dint of some knowledge seems not to be the most distant proof. On the con- in simples, the possession of a musical clock, an electrary, all ancient authors, who quote the Rhymer's trical machine, and a stuffed alligator, added to a prophecies, uniformly suppose them to have been 'supposed communication with Thomas the Rhymer, emitted by himself. Thus, in Winton's Chronicle- lived for many years in very good credit as a wizard.
It seemed to the Editor unpardonable to dismiss a “ Of this fycht quilum spak Thomas
person so important in Border tradition as the Rhymer, Of Ersyldoune, that sayd in derne,
without some farther notice than a simple commentary There suld meit stalwartly, starke and sterne. He sayd it in his prophecy;
upon the following ballad. It is given from a copy, But how he wist it was ferly."
obtained from a lady residing not far from Ercildoune,
Bouk viii. chap. 32. corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs. Brown's MSS. There could have been no ferly (marvel) in Win- The former copy, however, as might be expected, is ton's eyes at least, how Thomas came by his know- far more minute as to local description. To this old ledge of future events, had he ever heard of the in- tale the Editor has ventured to add a Second Part, spired nun of Haddington, which, it cannot be doubt- cies vulgarly ascribed to the Rhymer; and a Third
consisting of a kind of cento, from the printed propheed, would have been a solution of the mystery, much Part, entirely modern, founded upon the tradition of to the taste of the Prior of Lochleven. Whatever doubts, however, the learned might have, Land of Fairy. To make his peace with the more
his having returned with the hart and hind, to the as to the source of the Rhymer's prophetic skill, the vulgar had no hesitation to ascribe the whole to the Second Part some remarks on Learmont's prophecies.
severe antiquaries, the Editor has prefixed to the intercourse between the bard and the Queen of Faëry. The popular tale bears, that Thomas was carried off, at an early age, to the Fairy Land, where he acquired all the knowledge, which made him afterwards so
THOMAS THE RHYMER. famous. After seven years' residence, he was permitted to return to the earth, to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by his prophetic powers; still, how-! ever, remaining bound to return to his royal mistress, when she should intimate her pleasure. Accordingly, while Thomas was making merry with his friends in the TRUE Thomas lay on Huntlie bank ;' Tower of Ercildoune, a person came running in, and A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee; told, with marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart And there he saw a ladye bright, and hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were, Come riding down by the Eildon Treo
i Henry the Minstrel, who introduces Thomas into the history of Wallace, expresses the same doubt as to the source of his prophetic knowledge :
“ Thomas Rhymer into the faile was than
With the minister, which was a worthy man.
I cannot say by wrong or righteousness.
History of Wallace, Book 12
8 There is a singular resemblance betwixt this tradition, and an incident occurring in the life of Merlin Caledonius, which the reader will find a few pages onwards.
+ Huntly Bank, and the adjoining ravine, called, frum im. memorial tradition, the Rymer's Glen, were ultimately included in the domain of Abbotsford. The scenery of this glen forms
the background of Edwin Landseer's portrait of Sir Walter that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of KnowScott, painted in 1833.-Ed.
ledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The | Thal weird, 4-c.—That destiny shall never frighten me.
repugnance of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehosd
when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect. ? The traditional commentary upon this ballad inforins us, 3 See Appendix, Note B.