Sidor som bilder

sound, and seeing a strange face, her arms slipped their hold and she dropped with a groan on the ground. The morning had now fairly broke: the flocks shook the rain from their sides, the shepherds hastened to inspect their charges, and a thin blue smoke began to stream from the cottages of the valley into the brightening air. The laird carried Phemie Irving in his arms, till he observed two iii. ascending from one of the loops of Corriewater, bearing the lifeless body of her brother. They had found him whirling round and round in one of the numerous eddies, and his hands clutched and filled with wool showed that he had lost his life in attempting to save the flock of his sister. A plaid was laid over the body, which, along with the unhappy maiden in a half lifeless state, was carried into a cottage, and laid in that apartment distinguished among the [...oft. by the name of the chamer. While the peasant's wife was left to take care of Phemie, -old man and matron, and maid, had collected around the drowned youth, and each began to relate the circumstances of his death, when the door suddenly opened, and his sister, advancing to the corse with a look of delirious serenity, broke out into a wild laugh and said: “O, it is wonderful, its truly wonderful! that bare and death-cold body, dragged from the darkest pool of Corrie, with its hands filled with fine wool, wears the Peo similitude of my own Elphin' I'll tell ye—the spiritual dwellers of the earth, the Fairyfolk of our evening tale, have stolen the living body, and fashioned this cold and inanimate clod to mislead your pursuit. In common eyes this seems all that Elphin Irving would be, had he sunk in Corriewater; but so it seems not to me. Ye have sought the living soul, and

ye have found only its garment, But

oh, if ye had beheld him, as I beheld

him to-night, riding among the elfin troop the fairest of them all; had you clasped him in your arms, and wrestled for him with spirits and ter. shapes from the other world, till your heart quailed and your flesh was subdued, then would ye yield no credit to the semblance this cold and apparent flesh bears to my brother. But hearken—on Hallowmass-eve, when the spiritual people are let loose on earth for a season, I will take my stand in the burial ground of Corrie, and when my Elphin and his unchristened troop come past with the sound of all their minstrelsy, I will leap on him and win him, or perish for ever.” All gazed aghast on the delirious maiden, and many of her auditors gave more credence to her distempered speech than to the visible evidence before them. As she turned to depart she looked round, and suddenly sank upon the body with tears

streaming from her eyes, and sobbed

out, “ My brother Oh, my brother '" She was carried out insensible, and again recovered; but relapsed

into her ordinary delirium, in which

she continued till the Hallow-eve after her brother's burial. She was found seated in the ancient burialground, her back against a broken #." her locks white with rost-rime, seemingly watching with intensity of look the road to the kirkyard: but the spirit which gave life to the fairest form of all the maids of Annandale was fled for ever.—Such is the singular story which the peasants know by the name of Elphin Irving, the Fairies' Cupbearer; and the title, in its fullest and most supernatural sense, still obtains credence among the industrious and virtuous dames of the romantic vale of Corrie.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

country—of the tragic incidents which they had lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children in the Wood. Certain it is that the whole story of the children and their cruel uncle was to be seen fairly carved out in wood upon the chimneypiece of the great hall, the whole story down to the Robin Redbreasts, till a foolish rich person pulled it down to set up a marble one of modern invention in its stead, with no story upon it. Here Alice put out one of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be called upbraiding. Then I went on to say, how religious and how good their great-grandmother Field was, how beloved and respected by every body, though she was not indeed the mistress of this great house, but had only the charge of it (and yet in some respects she might be said to be the mistress of it too) committed to her by the owner, who preferred living in a newer and more fashionable mansion which he had purchased somewhere in the adjoining county; but still she lived in it in a manner as if it had been her own, and kept up the dignity of the great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen lately at the Abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.’s tawdry gilt drawing-room. Here John smiled, as much as to say “that would be foolish indeed.” And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by a concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the neighbourhood for many miles round, to show their respect for her memory, because she had been such a good and religious woman ; so good indeed that she knew all the Psaltery by heart, aye, and a great part of the Testament besides. Here little Alice spread her hands. Then I told what a tall, upright, graceful person their great-grandmother Field once was ; and how in her youth she was esteemed the best dancer—here Alice's little right foot played an involuntary movement, till, upon my

looking grave, it desisted—the best

dancer, I was saying, in the county, till a cruel disease, called a cancer, came, and bowed her down with pain; but it could never bend her good spirits, or make them stoop, but they were still upright, because she was so good and religious. Then I told how she was used to sleep by herself in a lone chamber of the great lone house; and how she believed that an apparition of two infants was to be seen at midnight gliding up and down the great staircase near where she slept, but she said “ those innocents would do her no harm ; ” and how frightened I used to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep with me, because I was never half so good or religious as she— and yet I never saw the infants. Here John expanded all his eyebrows, and tried to look courageous. Then I told how good she was to all her grand-children, having us to the great house in the holydays, where I in particular used to spend many hours by myself, in gazing upon the old busts of the Twelve Caesars, that had been Emperors of Rome, till the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into marble with them ; how I never could be tired with roaming about that huge mansion, with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out hangings, fluttering tapestry, and carved oaken pannels, with the gilding almost rubbed out—sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I had almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening man would cross me—and how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the walls, without my ever offering to pluck them, because they were forbidden fruit, unless now and then,and because I had more pieasure in strolling about among the old melancholy-looking yew trees, or the firs, and picking up the red berries, and the fir apples, which were good for nothing but to look at—or in lying about upon the fresh grass, with all the fine garden smells around me– or basking in the orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening too along with the oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth- or in watching the dace that darted to and fro in the fish pond, at the bottom of

the garden, with here and there a


eat sulky pike hanging midway own the water in silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings, I had more pleasure in these busy-idle diversions, than in all the sweet flavours of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such like common baits of children. Here John slyly deposited back upon the plate a bunch of grapes, which, not unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing with her, and both seemed willing to relinquish them for the present as irrelevant. Then in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how, though their great-grandmother Field loved all her grand-children, yet in an esF. manner she might be said to ove their uncle, John L–, because he was so handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to the rest of us; and, instead of moping about in solitary corners, like some of us, he would mount the most mettlesome horse he could get, when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and make it carry him half over the county in a morning, and join the hunters when there were any out—and yet he loved the old great house and gardens too, but had too much spirit to be always pent up within their boundaries—and how their uncle grew up to man's estate as brave as he was handsome, to the admiration of every body, but of their greatgrandmother Field most especially; and how he used to carry me upon his back when I was a lame-footed boy—for he was a good bit older than me—many a mile when I could not walk for pain;–and how in after life he became lame-footed too, and I did not always o fear) make allowances enough for him when he was impatient, and in pain, nor remember sufficiently how considerate he had been to me when I was lamefooted; and how when he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he had died a reat while ago, such a distance there is betwixt life and death; and how I bore his death as I thought pretty well at first, but afterwards it haunt

ed and haunted me; and though I did not cry or take it to heart as some do, and as I think he would have done if I had died, yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him. I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be alive again, to be quarreling with him §. we quarreled sometimes), rather

an not have him again, and was as uneasy without him, as he their poor uncle must have been when the doctor took off his limb. Here the children fell a crying, and asked if their little mourning which they had on was not for uncle John, and they looked up, and prayed me not to go on about their uncle, but to tell them some stories about their pretty dead mother. Then I told how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair, yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W-m; and, as much as children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and difficulty, and denial meant in maidens—when suddenly, turning to Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them, stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was, and while I stood gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding, and still receding, till nothing at last but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech ; “We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all. The children of Alice call Bartrum father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name." and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor arm

chair, where I had fallen asleep, with

the faithful Bridget unchanged by my side—but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever. ELIA.

CONTINUATION OF DR. JoHNSON's 3Liucg of the £90cts,

No. III.


AN account of Christopher Anstey, written by his second son, is prefixed to the handsome edition of his works, printed at London, in 1808. He was born on the thirty-first of October, 1724, and was the son of Doctor Anstey, rector of Brinkley, in Cambridgeshire, a living in the gift of St. . College, Cambridge ; of which the Doctor had formerly been fellow and tutor. His mother was Mary, daughter of Anthony Thom son, Esq. of Trumpington, in the same county. They had no offspring but our poet, and a daughter born some years before him.

His father was afflicted with a total deafness for so considerable a ortion of his life as never to have eard the sound of his son's voice; and was thus rendered incapable of communicating to him that instruction which he might otherwise have derived from a parent endowed with remarkable acuteness of understanding. He was, therefore, sent very early to school at Bury St. Edmunds. Here he continued, under the tuition

of the Rev. Arthur Kinsman, till he

was removed to Eton; on the foundation of which school he was afterwards placed. His studies having been completed with great credit to himself, under Doctor George, the head-master of Eton, in the year 1742 he succeeded to a scholarship of King's College, Cambridge, where his classical attainments were not neglected. He was admitted in 1745 to a fellowship of his college; and, in the next year, he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts. He now resided chiefly in the University; where his resistance to an innovation, attempted to be introduced into King's College, involved him in a dispute which occasioned the degree of Master to be refused him. That College had immemorially asserted for its members an exemption from the performance of those public exercises demanded of the rest

of the University as a qualification for their degrees. This right was now questioned ; and it was required of the Bachelor Fellows of King's, that they should compose and pronounce a Latin oration in the public schools. Such an infringement of privilege was not to be tamely endured. After some opposition made by Anstey, in common with the other junior Fellows, the exercise in dispute was at length exacted. But Anstey, who was the senior Bachelor of the year, and to whose lot it therefore fell first to deliver this obnoxious declamation, contrived to frame it in such a manner, as to cast a ridicule on the whole proceeding.’ He was accordingly interrupted in the recitation of it, and ordered to compose another; in which, at the same time that he pretended to exculpate himself from his former of fence, he continued in the same vein of raillery. Though his degree was withheld in consequence of this pertimacity, yet it produced the desired effect of maintaining for the College its former freedom. While an undergraduate, he had distinguished himself by his Latin verses, called the Tripos Verses;

and, in 1748, by a poem, in the same

language, on the Peace; printed in the Cambridge Collection. His quarrel with the senior part of the University did not deprive him of his fellowship. He was still occasionally an inmate of the College; and did not cease to be a Fellow, till he came into the possesion of the family estate at his mother's death, in 1754. In two years after, he married Anne, third daughter of Felix Calvert, Esq. of Albury-Hall, in Hertfordshire, and the sister of John Calvert, Esq. one of his most intimate friends, who was returned to that and many successive Parliaments, for the borough of Hertford. • “By this most excellent lady,” say

his biographer, with the amiable warmth of filial tenderness, “ who was allowed to possess every endowment of person, and qualification of mind and disposition which could render her interesting and attractive in domestic life, and whom he justly regarded as the pattern of every virtue, and the source of all his happiness, he lived in uninterrupted and undiminished esteem and affection for nearly half a century; and by her who for the happiness of her family is still living) he had thirteen children, of whom eight only survive him.” This long period is little checquered with events. Having no taste for public business, and his circumstances being easy and independent, he passed the first fourteen years at his seat in Cambridgeshire, in an alternation of study and the recreations of rural life, in which he took much pleasure. But, at the end of that time, the loss of his sister gave a shock to his spirits, which they did not speedily recover. That she was a lady of superior talents is probable, from her having been admitted to a friendship and correspondence with Mrs. Montague, then Miss Robinson. The effect which this deprivation produced on him was such as to hasten the approach, and perhaps to aggravate the violence, of a bilious fever, for the cure of which, by Doctor Heberden's advice, he vi. sited Bath, and by the use of those waters was gradually restored to health. . In 1766 he published his Bath Guide, from the press of Cambridge; a poem, which aiming at the popular follies of the day, and being written in a very lively and uncommon style, rapidly made its way to the favour of the public. At its first appearance, Gray, who was not easily pleased, in a letter to one of his friends observed, that it was the only thing in fashion, and that it was a new and original kind of humour. Soon after the publication of the second edition, he sold the copy-right for two hundred pounds to Dodsley, and gave the profits previously accruing from the work to the General Hospital at Bath. Dodsley, about ten years after his purchase, candidly owned that the sale had been more

productive to him than that of any other book in which he had before been concerned ; and with much liberality restored the copy-right to the author. In 1767 he wrote a short Elegy on the Death of the Marquis of Tavistock; and the Patriot, a Pindaric Epistle, intended to bring into discredit the practice of prize-fighting. Not long after he was called to serve the office of high-sheriff for the county of Cambridge. In 1770 he quitted his seat there for a house which he purchased in Bath. The greater convenience of obtaining instruction for a numerous family, the education of which had hitherto been superintended by himself, was one of the motives that induced him to this change of habitation. The Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers appearing soon after his arrival at 1. and being by many imputed to a writer who had latel so much distinguished himself by his talent for satire, he was at considerable pains to disavow that publication; and by some lines containing. a deserved compliment to his sovereign, gave a sufficient pledge for the honesty of his declaration. In 1776, a poem entitled An Election Ball, founded on a theme proposed by Lady Miller, who held a sort of little poetical court at her villa at Batheaston, did not disa point the expectations formed of the author of the Bath Guide. It was at first written in the Somersetshire dialect, but was afterwards judiciously stripped of its provincialism. About 1786 he entertained a design of collecting his poems, and publishing them together. But the painful recollections which his task awakened, of those friends and companions of his youth who had been separated from him by death during so long a period, made him relinquish his intention. He committed, however, to the press, translations of some of Gay's Fables, which had been made into Latin, chiefly with a view to the improvement of his children; an Alcaic Ode to Doctor Jenmer, on the Discovery of the Cowpock; and several short poems in his own language. “His increasing years,” to use the words of his son, “stole imperceptibly on the even

« FöregåendeFortsätt »