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What idle dream, what lighter thought,
Join'd to thine eye's dark witchcraft, drew
Pledge of my faith, Fitz-James's ring-
Full well the conscious maiden guess'd,
I know his heart, I know his hand,
To bid Clan-Alpine's Chieftain live!—
The suit that stain'd her glowing cheek.-
Nay, then, my pledge has lost its force,
And stubborn justice holds her course.
Malcolm, come forth!"-And, at the word,
[MS.-"Thy sovereign back
[MS." Pledge of Fitz-James's faith, the ring."]
[ MS.--" And in her breast strove maiden shame;
She craved the grace of Roderick Dhu."]
4 ["Malcolm Græme has too insignificant a part assigned him, considering the favour in which he is held both by Ellen and the author; and in bringing out the shaded and imperfect
"For thee, rash youth, no suppliant sues,
Harp of the North, farewell! The hills grow dark,
Yet, once again, farewell, thou Minstrel Harp!
May idly cavil at án idle lay.
Much have I owed thy strains on life's long way,
And bitterer was the grief devour'd alone.
That I o'erlive such woes, Enchantress! is thine own.
character of Roderick Dhu, as a contrast to the purer virtue of his rival, Mr. Scott seems to have fallen into the common error, of making him more interesting than him whose virtues he was intended to set off, and converted the villain of the piece in some measure into its hero. A modern poet, however, may perhaps be pardoned for an error, of which Milton himself is thought not to have kept clear, and for which there seems so natural a cause in the difference between poetical and amiable characters."-JEFFREY.]
[--"And now, waving myself, let me talk to you of the Prince Regent. He ordered me to be presented to him at a ball; and after some sayings peculiarly pleasing from royal lips, as to my own attempts, he talked to me of you and your immortalities: he preferred you to every bard past and present, and asked which of your works pleased me most. It was a difficult question. I answered, I thought the 'Lay.' He said his own opinion was nearly similar. In speaking of the others, I told him that I thought you more particularly the poet of Princes, as they never appeared more fascinating than in Marmion and the Lady of the Lake. He was pleased to coincide, and to dwell on the description of your James's as no less royal than poetical. He spoke alternately of Homer and yourself, and seemed well acquainted with both," etc.-Letter from Lord Byron to Sir Walter Scott, July 6, 1812. BYRON'S Life and Works, vol. ii. p. 156.]
Hark! as my lingering footsteps slow retire,
Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell,
A wandering witch-note of the distant spell-
!["On a comparison of the merits of this poem with the two former productions of the same unquestioned genius, we are inclined to bestow on it a very decided preference over both. It would perhaps be difficult to select any one passage of such genuiné inspiration, as one or two that might be pointed out in the Lay of the Last Minstrel-and, perhaps, in strength and discrimination of character, it may fall short of Marmion; although we are loath to resign either the rude and savage generosity of Roderick, the romantic chivalry of James, or the playful simplicity, the affectionate tenderness, the modest courage, of Ellen Douglas, to the claims of any competitors in the last-mentioned poem. But, for interest and artificial management in the story, for general ease and grace of versification, and correctness of language, the Lady of the Lake must be universally allowed, we think, to excel, and very far excel, either of her predecessors."—Critical Review.]
["There is nothing, in Mr. Scott, of the severe and majestic style of Milton-or of the terse and fine composition of Pope-or of the elaborate elegance and melody of Campbellor even of the flowing and redundant diction of Southey,-but there is a medley of bright images and glowing, set carelessly and loosely together-a diction tinged successively with the careless richness of Shakspeare, the harshness and antique simplicity of the old romances, the homeliness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and the sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry-passing from the borders of the ludicrous to those of the sublimealternately minute and energetic-sometimes artificial, and frequently negligent, but always full of spirit and vivacity-abounding in images, that are striking at first sight to minds of every contexture-and never expressing a sentiment which it can cost the most ordinary reader any exertion to comprehend. Upon the whole, we are inclined to think more highly of the Lady of the Lake than of either of its author's former publications. We are more sure, however, that it has fewer faults, than that it has greater beauties; and as its beauties bear a strong resemblance to those with which the public has been already made familiar in these celebrated works, we should not be surprised if its popularity were less splendid and remarkable. For our own parts, however, we are of opinion, that it will be oftener read hereafter than either of them; and that if it had appeared first in the series, their reception would have been less favourable than that which it has experienced. It is more polished in its diction, and more regular in its versification; the story is constructed with infinitely more skill and address; there is a greater proportion of pleasing and tender passages, with much less antiquarian detail; and, upon the whole, a larger variety of characters, more artfully and judiciously contrasted. There is nothing so fine, perhaps, as the battle in Marmion-or so picturesque as some of the scattered sketches in the Lay; but there is a richness and a spirit in the whole piece, which does not pervade either of these poems-a profusion of incident, and a shifting brilliancy of colouring, that reminds us of the witchery of Ariosto-and a constant elasticity, and occasional energy, which seem to belong more peculiarly to the author now before us."—JEFFREY.] ·
A grey-hair'd sire, whose eye intent
Was on the vision'd future bent.-P. 19.
If force of evidence could authorize us to believe facts inconsistent with the general laws of nature, enough might be produced in favour of the existence of the Second-sight. It is called in Gaelic Taishitaraugh, from Taish, an unreal or shadowy appearance; and those possessed of the faculty are called Taishatrin, which may be aptly translated visionaries. Martin, a steady believer in the second-sight, gives the following account of it :
"The second-sight is a singular faculty, of seeing an otherwise invisible object, without any previous means used by the person that used it for that end: the vision makes such a lively impression upon the seers, that they neither see, nor think of any thing else, except the vision, as long as it continues; and then they appear pensive or jovial, according to the object which was represented to them.
"At the sight of a vision, the eyelids of the person are erected, and the eyes continue staring until the object vanish. This is obvious to others who are by, when the persons happen to see a vision, and occurred more than once to my own observation, and to others that were with me.
"There is one in Skie, of whom his acquaintance observed, that when he sees a vision, the inner part of his eyelids turns so far upwards, that, after the object disappears, he must draw them down with his fingers, and sometimes employ others to draw them down, which he finds to be the much easier way..
"This faculty of the second-sight does not lineally descend in a family, as some imagine, for I know several parents who are endowed with it, but their children not, and vice versa; neither is it acquired by any previous compact. And, after a strict enquiry, I could never learn that this faculty was communicable any way whatsoever.
"The seer knows neither the object, time, nor place of a vision, before it appears; and the same object is often seen by different persons, living at a considerable distance from one another. The true way of judging as to the time and circumstance of an object, is by observation; for several persons of judgment, without this faculty, are more capable to judge of the design of a vision, than a novice that is a seer. If an object appear in the day or night, it will come to pass sooner or later accordingly.
"If an object is seen early in the morning, (which is not frequent,) it will be accomplished in a few hours afterwards, If at noon, it will commonly be accomplished that very day. If in the evening, perhaps that night; if after candles be lighted, it will be accomplished that night: the later always in accomplishment, by weeks, months, and sometimes years, according to the time of night the vision is seen. >
"When a shroud is perceived about one, it is a sure prognostic of death; the time is judged according to the height of it about the person; for if it is seen above the middle, death is not to be expected for the space of a year, and perhaps some months longer; and as it is frequently seen to ascend higher towards the head, death is concluded to be at hand within a few days, if not hours, as daily experience confirms. Examples of this kind were shown me, when the persons of whom the observations were then made, enjoyed perfect health. "One instance was lately foretold by a seer, that was a novice, concerning the death of one of my acquaintance; this was communicated to a few only, and with great confidence : 1 being one of the number, did not in the least regard it, until the death of the person, about the time foretold, did confirm me of the certainty of the prediction. The novice mentioned above, is now a skilful seer, as appears from many late instances; he lives in the parish of St. Mary's, the most northern in Skie.
"If a woman is seen standing at a man's left hand, it is a presage that she will be his wife, whether they be married to others, or unmarried at the time of the apparition.
"If two or three women are seen at once near a man's left hand, she that is next him will undoubtedly be his wife first, and so on, whether all three, or the man, be single or married at the time of the vision or not; of which there are several late instances among those of my acquaintance. It is an ordinary thing for them to see a man that is to come to the house shortly after: and if he is not of the seer's acquaintance, yet he gives such a lively description of his stature, complexion, habit, etc. that upon his arrival he answers the character given him in all respects.
"If the person so appearing be one of the seer's acquaintance, he will tell his name, as
well as other particulars; and he can tell by his countenance whether he comes in a good or bad humour.
"I have been seen thus myself by seers of both sexes, at some hundred miles' distance; some that saw me in this manner had never seen me personally, and it happened according to their vision, without any previous design of mine to go to those places, my coming there being purely accidental.
"It is ordinary with them to see houses, gardens, and trees, in places void of all three; and this in progress of time uses to be accomplished: as at Mogshot, in the Isle of Skie, where there were but a few sorry cowhouses, thatched with straw, yet in a very few years after, the vision, which appeared often, was accomplished, by the building of several good houses on the very spot represented by the seers, and by the planting of orchards there. "To see a spark of fire fall upon one's arm or breast, is a forerunner of a dead child to be seen in the arms of those persons; of which there are several fresh instances.
"To see a seat empty at the time of one's sitting in it, is a presage of that person's death soon after.
"When a novice, or one that has lately obtained the second-sight, sees a vision in the night-time without doors, and he be near a fire, he presently falls into a swoon.
"Some find themselves as it were in a crowd of people, having a corpse which they carry along with them; and after such visions the seers come in sweating, and describe the people that appeared: if there be any of their acquaintance among 'em, they give an account of their names, as also of the bearers, but they know nothing concerning the corpse.
"All those who have the second-sight do not always see these visions at once, though they be together at the time. But if one who has this faculty, designedly touch his fellow-seer at the instant of a vision's appearing, then the second sees it as well as the first and this is sometimes discerned by those that are near them on such occasions.”—MARTIN'S Description of the Western Islands, 1716, 8vo, p. 500, et seq.
To these particulars innumerable examples might be added, all attested by grave and credible authors. But, in despite of evidence, which neither Bacon, Boyle, nor Johnson, were able to resist, the Taisch, with all its visionary properties, seems to be now universally abandoned to the use of poetry. The exquisitely beautiful poem of Lochiel will at once occur to the recollection of every reader.
My sire's tall form might grace the part
Of Ferragus or Ascabart.-P. 23.
These two sons of Anak flourished in romantic fable. The first is well known to the admirers of Ariosto, by the name of Ferrau. He was an antagonist of Orlando, and was at length slain by him in single combat. There is a romance in the Auchinleck MS., in which Ferragus is thus described :
"On a day come tiding
Unto Charls the King,
Of Babiloun the soudan
With King Charls to fight.
So hard he was to-fond
That no dint of brond
No greued him, aplight.
He hadde twenti men strengthe
Thilke painim bede,
And four feet in the face,
And fifteen in brede.
Found, proved.-2 Had.-3 Measured.-4 Breadth.