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and demeanour seemed to exhibit. If strangers sometimes conceived that these fine features were clouded by melancholy, for which her age and situation could scarce have given occasion, they were soon satisfied, upon further acquaintance, that the placid, mild quietude of her disposition, and the mental energy of a character which was but little interested in ordinary and trivial occurrences, was the real cause of her gravity; and most men, when they knew that her melancholy had no ground in real sorrow, and was only the aspiration of a soul bent on more important objects than those by which she was surrounded, might have wished her whatever could add to her happiness, but could scarce have desired that, graceful as she was in her natural and unaffected seriousness, she should change that deportment for one more gay. In short, notwithstanding our wish to have avoided that hackneyed simile of an angel, we cannot avoid saying there was something in the serious beauty of her aspect, in the measured, yet graceful case of her motions, in the music of her voice, and the serene purity of her eye, that seemed as if Minna Troil belonged naturally to some higher and better sphere, and was only the chance visitant of a world that was scarce worthy of her. The scarce less beautiful, equally lovely, and equally innocent Brenda, was of a complexion as differing from her sister, as they differed in character, taste, and expression. Her F. locks were of that paly brown which receives from the passing sun-beam a tinge of gold, but darkens again when the ray has passed from it. Her eye, her mouth, the beautiful row of teeth, which, in her innocent vivacity, were frequently disclosed ; the fresh, yet not too bright glow of a healthy complexion, tinging a skin like the drifted snow, spoke her genuine Scandinavian descent. A fairy form, less tall than that of Minna, but even more finely moulded into symmetry—a careless, and almost childish lightness of step—an eye that seemed to look on every object with pleasure, from a natural and serene cheerfulness of disposition, attracted even more general admiration than the charms of her sister, though, perhaps, that which Minna did excite, might be of a more intense as well as a more reverential character. The dispositions of these lovely sisters were not less different than their complexions. In the kindly affections, neither could be said to excel the other, so much were they attached to their father and to each other. But the cheerfulness of Brenda mixed itself with the every-day business of life, and seemed inexhaustible in its profusion. The less buoyant spirit of her sister appeared to bring to society a contented wish to be interested and pleased with what was going forward, but was ra
ther placidly carried along with the stream of mirth and pleasure, than disposed to aid its progress by any efforts of her own. She endured mirth, rather than enjoyed it; and the pleasures in which she most delighted were those of a graver and more solitary cast. The knowledge which is derived from books was beyond her reach. Zetland afforded few opportunities, in those days, of studying the lessons bequeathed By dead men to their kind;
and Magnus Troil, such as we have described him, was not a person within whose mansion the means of such knowledge was to be acquired. But the book of nature was before Minna, that noblest of volumes, where we are ever called to wonder and to admire, even when we cannot understand. The plants of those wild regions, the shells on the shores, and the long list of feathered clans which haunt their cliffs and eyries, were as well known to Minna Troil, as to the most experienced of the fowlers. Her powers of observation were wonderful, and little interrupted by other tones of feeling. The information which she acquired by habits of patient attention were indelibly rivetted in a naturally powerful memory. She had also a high feeling for the solitary and melancholy grandeur of the scenes in which she was placed. The ocean, in all its varied forms of sublimity and terror—the tremendous cliffs that resound to the ceaseless roar of the billows, and the clang of the sea-fowl, had for Minna a charm in almost every state in which the changing seasons exhibited them. With the cnthusiastic feelings proper to the romantic race from which her mother descended, the love of natural objects was to her a passion capable of not only occupying, but at times of agitating her mind. Scenes upon which her sister looked with a sense of transient awe or emotion, which vanished on her return from witnessing them, continued long to fill Minna's imagination, not only in solitude, and in the silence of the night, but in the hours of society. So that sometimes when she sat like a beautiful statue, a present member of the domestic circle, her thoughts were far absent, wandering on the wild sea-shore, and amongst the yet wilder mountains of her native isles. And yet, when recalled to conversation, and mingling in it with interest, there were few to whom her friends were more indebted for enhancing its enjoyments; and, although something in her manners claimed deference (notwithstanding her early youth) as well as affection, even her gay, lovely, and amiable sister was not more generally beloved than the more retired and pensive Minna. So much for elegant Vandyke portrait painting. Now for something in the Salvator style. Norma, the
So saying, he drew a stool to the fire, and sate down without further ceremony. Dame Baby stared, “wild as grey gosshawk,” and was meditating how to express her indignation in something warmer than words, for which the boiling pot seemed to offer a convenient hint, when an old halfstarved serving woman, the sharer of her domestic cares, who had been as yet in some remote corner of the mansion, now hobbled into the room, and broke out into exclamations which indicated some new cause of alarm. “O master 1" and “O mistress ''' were the only sounds she could for some time articulate, and then followed him up with, “ The best in the house—the best in the house—set a' on the board, and a' will be little aneugh—there is auld Norna of Fitful-head, the most fearful woman in all the isles' " “Where can she have been wandering P” said Mordaunt, not without some apparent sympathy with the surprise, if not with the alarm, of the old domestic: “ but it is needless to ask—the worse the weather, the more likely is she to be a traveller.” “What new tramper is this?” echoed the distracted Baby, whom the quick succession of guests had driven well nigh crazy with vexation. “I’ll soon settle her wandering, I shall warrant, if my brother has but the soul of a man in him, or if there be a pair of jougs at Scalloway.” “ The iron was never forged on stithy that would hauld her,” said the old maidservant. “She comes—she comes—God's sake speak her fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp on the yarn-windles.” As she spoke, a woman tall enough almost to touch the top of the door with her cap, stepped into the room, signing the cross as she entered, and pronouncing, with a solemn voice, “The blessing of God and Saint Ronald on the open door, and their braid malison and mine upon close-handed churls " “And wha are ye, that are sae bauld wi' our blessing and banning in other folks' houses 2 What kind of country is this, that folks cannot sit quiet for an hour, and serve heaven, and keep their bit gear thegither, without gangrel men and women coming thigging and sorning ane after another, like a string of wild-geese ?” This speech, the understanding reader will easily saddle on Mistress Baby, and what effects it might have produced on the last stranger can only be matter of conjecture; for the old servant and Mordaunt applied themselves at once to the party addressed, in order to deprecate her resentment; the former speaking to her some words of Norse, in a tone of intercession,
and Mordaunt saying in English, “They are strangers, Norna, and know not your name or qualities; they are unacquainted, too, with the ways of this country. and therefore we must hold them excused for their lack of hospitality.” “I lack no hospitality, young man," said Triptolemus, “ miscris succurrere disco—the goose that was destined to roost in the chimney till Michaelmas, is boiling in the pot for you ; but if we had twenty geese, I see we are like to find mouths to eat them every feather—this must be amended.” “What must be amended, sordid slave 2". said the stranger Norna, turning at once upon him with an emphasis that made him start—“ What must be amended ? Bring hither, if thou wilt, thy new-fangled coulters, spades and harrows, alter the implements of our fathers from the ploughshare to the mouse-trap; but know thou art in the land that was won of old by the flaxenhaired Kempions of the north, and leave us their hospitality at least, to shew we come of what was once noble and generous. I say to you beware—while Norna looks forth at the measureless waters, from the crest of Fitful-head, something is yet left that resembles power of defence. If the men of Thule have ceased to be champions, and to spread the banquet for the raven, the women have not forgotten the arts that lifted them of yore into queens and prophetesses.” The woman who pronounced this singular tirade, was as striking in appearance as extravagantly lofty in her pretensions and in her language. She might well have represented on the stage, so far as features, voice, and stature were concerned, the Bonduca or Boadicea of the Britons, or the sage Welleda, Aurinia, or any other fated Pythoness, who ever led to battle a tribe of the ancient Goths. Her features were high and well formed, and would have been handsome but for the ravages of time, and the effects of exposure to the severe weather of her country. Age, and perhaps sorrow, had quenched, in some degree, the fire of a dark blue eye, whose hue almost approached to black, and had sprinkled snow on such part of her tresses as had escaped from under her cap, and were dishevelled by the rigour of the storm. Her upper garment, which dropped with water, was of a coarse dark-coloured stuff, called Wadmaral, then much used in the Zetland islands, as also in Iceland and Norway. But as she threw this cloak back from her shoulders, a short jacket, of dark blue velvet, stamped with figures, became visible, and the vest, which corresponded to it, was of crimson colour, and embroidered with tarnished silver. Her girdle was plaited with silver ornaments, cut into the shape of planetary signs—her blue apron was emwo with similar devicts, and covered 2
a petticoat of crimson cloth. Strong thick enduring shoes, of the half-dressed leather of the country, were tied with straps like those of the Roman buskins, over her scarlet stockings. She wore in her belt, an ambiguous looking weapon, which might for a sacrificing knife or dagger, as the imagination of the spectator chose to assign to the wearer the character of a priestess or of a sorceress. In her hand she held a staff, squared on all sides, and engraved with Runic characters and figures, forming one of those portable and perpetual calendars which were used among the ancient natives of Scandinavia, and which, to a superstitious eye, might have passed for a divining rod. Such were the appearance, features, and attire of Norna of the Fitful-head, upon whom many of the inhabitants of the island looked with observance, many with fear, and almost all with a sort of veneration. Less pregnant circumstances of suspicion would, in any other part of Scotland, have exposed her to the investigation of those cruel inquisitors, who were then often invested with the delegated authority of the privy-council, for the purpose of persecuting, torturing, and finally consigning to the flames, those who were accused of witchcraft or sorcery. But superstitions of this nature pass through two stages ere they become entirely obsolete. Those supposed to be possessed of supernatural powers, are venerated in the earlier stages of society. As religion and knowledge increase, they are first held in hatred and horror, and are finally regarded as impostors. Scotland was in the second state—the fear of witchcraft was great, and the hatred against those suspected of it intense. Zetland was as yet a little world by itself, where, among the lower and ruder classes, so much of the ancient northern superstition remained, as cherished the original veneration for those affecting supernatural knowledge and power over the elements, which made a constituent part of the ancient Scandinavian creed. ... : least, if the natives of Thule admitted that one class of magicians performed their feats by their alliance with Satan, they devoutly believed that others dealt with spirits of a different and less odious class—the ancient dwarfs, called, in Zetland, Trows or Drows, the modern fairies, and so for:h. Among those who were supposed to be in league with disembodied spirits, this Norna, descended from, and representative of a family which had long pretended to such gifts, was so eminent, that the name assigned to her, which signifies one of those fatal sisters who weave the web of human • fate, had been conferred in honour of her supernatural powers. The name by which she had been actually christened was carefully concealed by herself and her parents; for to the discovery they superstitiously annexed some fatal consequences. In these
times, the doubt only occurred whether her supposed powers were acquired by lawful means. In our days, it would have been questioned whether she was an impostor, or whether her imagination was so deeply impressed with the mysteries of her supposed art, that she might be in some degree a believer in her own pretensions to supernatural knowledge. Certain it is, that she performed her part with such undoubting confidence, and such striking dignity of look and action, and evinced, at the same time, such strength of language, and such energy of purpose, that it would have been difficult for the greatest sceptic to have doubted the reality of her enthusiasm, though he might smile at the pretensions to which it gave rise.
We give one more extract in a different style; and we think the comic painting in it is little inferior to Hogarth's. Now the fortunate arrival of Mordaunt, in the very nick of time, not to mention the good cheer which he brought with him, made him as welcome as any one could possibly be to a threshold, which on all ordinary occasions, abhorred the lo of a guest; nor was Mr. Yellowley altogether insensible of the pleasure he promised himself in detailing his plans of improvement to his young companion, and enjoying what his fate seldom assigned him - the company of a patient and admiring listener. As the factor and his sister were to prosecute their journey on horseback, it only remained to mount their guide and companion—a thing easily accomplished, where there are such numbers of shaggy, long-backed, short-legged ponies running wild upon the extensive moors, which are the common pasturage for the cattle of every township, where shelties, geese, swine, goats, sheep, and little Zetlard cows, are turned out promiscuously, and often in numbers which can obtain but precarious subsistence from the niggard vegetation. There is, indeed, a right of individual property in all these animals, which are branded or tatooed by each owner with his own peculiar mark ; but when any Fo has occasional use for a poney, e never scruples to lay hold of the first which he can catch, puts on a halter, and, having rode him as far as he finds convenient, turns the animal loose to find his way back again as he best can—a matter in which the ponies are sufficiently sagacious. Although this general exercise of property was one of the enormities which in due time the factor intended to abolish, yet, like a wise man, he scrupled not, in the mean time, to avail himself of so general a practice, which, he condescended to allow, was particularly convenient for those who (as chanced to be his own present case) had no ponies of their own on which their neighbours could retaliate. Three shelties, therefore, were procured from the hill—little shagged animals, more resembling wild bears than any thing of the horse tribe, yet possessed of no small degree of strength and spirit, and able to endure as much fatigue and indifferent usage as any creatures in the world. Two of these horses were already provided and fully accoutred for the journey. One of them, destined to bear the fair person of Mistress Baby, was decorated with a huge side-saddle of venerable antiquity— a mass, as it were, of cushion and padding, from which depended, on all sides, a housing of ancient tapestry, which, having been originally intended for a horse of ordinary size, covered up the diminutive palfrey over whom it was spread, from the ears to the tail, and from the shoulder to the fetlock, leaving nothing visible but its head, which looked fiercely out from these enfoldments, like the heraldic representation of a lion looking out of a bush. Mordaunt gallantly lifted up the fair Mistress Yellowley, and, at the expence of very slight exertion, placed her upon the summit of her mountainous sade. It is probable, that, on feeling herself thus squired and attended upon, and experiencing the long unwonted consciousness that she was attired in her best array, some thoughts dawned upon Mistress Baby's mind, which chequered, for an instant, those habitual ideas about thrift, that formed the daily and all-engrossing occupation of her soul. She glanced her eye upon her faded joseph, and on the long housings of her saddle, as she observed, with a smile, to Mordaunt, that “travelling was a pleasant thing in fine weather and agreable company, if,” she added, glancing a look at a place where the embroid was somewhat frayed and tattered, “it was not sae wasteful to ane's horse-furIniture.” Meanwhile her brother stepped stoutly to his steed; and as he chose, notwithstanding the serenity of the weather, to throw a long red cloak over his other garments, his poney was even more completely enveloped in drapery than that of his sister. It happened, moreover, to be an animal of an high and contumacious spirit, bouncing and curvetting occasionally under the weight of Triptolemus, with a vivacity which, notwithstanding his Yorkshire descent, rather deranged him in the saddle;—gambols which, as the palfrey itself was not visible, except upon the strictest inspection, had, at a little distance, an effect as if they were the voluntary movements of the cloaked cavalier, without the assistance of any other legs than those with which nature had provided
him ; and, to any one who had viewed Triptolemus under such a persuasion, the gravity, and even distress, announced in his countenance, must have made a ridiculous contrast to the vivacious caprioles with which he piaffed along the moor. Mordaunt kept up with this worthy couple, mounted, according to the simplicity of the time and country, on the first and readiest poney which they had been able to press into the service, with no other accoutrement of any kind than the halter which served to guide him ; while Mr. Yellowley, seeing with pleasure his guide thus readily provided with a steed, privately resolved, that this rude custom of helping travellers to horses, without leave of the proprietor, should not be abated in Zetland, until he came to possess a herd of ponies belonging in property to himself, and exposed to suffer in the way of retaliation. Shall we go on? No; but will leave the reader to revel at ease in the luxuries of feeling and description scattered through the rest of the work. We have only time to add two remarks more, which we do not remember to have seen made. One relates to the exquisitely good-natured and liberal tone displayed in the author's quotations from living writers. He takes them every one by turns, and of all factions in poetry and politics, under his wing, and sticks a stanza from Coleridge, from Wordsworth, from Byron, from Crabbe, from Ror gers, as a motto to his chapters, not jealous of their popularity, nor disdaining their obscurity. The author can hardly guess how much we like him for this. The second thing we would advert to is a fault, and a remarkable one. It is the slovenliness of the style and badness of the grammar throughout these admirable productions. Badness of the grammar ! Slovenly style ! What do you mean by that? Take a few instances, and we have done with the subject for ever. We give them seriatim, as we marked them in the margin. Here Magnus proceeded with great animation, sipping from time to time the half diluted spirit, which at the same time animuted his resentment against the intruders, &c. P. 16. In those days (for the present times are greatly altered for the better) the presence of a superior in such a situation, &c. P. 21. The o which fle acquired by habits of patient attention, were indelibly o in a naturally powerful memory. And I know not whom else are expected. P. 56.
Or perhaps he preferred the situation of the house and farm which he himself was to occupy (which was indeed a tolerable one) as preferable to that, &c. P. 89.
The strength of the retiring wave proved
even stronger than he had expected, &c. P. 169.
Butlet us have done with this, and leave it to the Editor of the Quarterly Review to take up the subject as a mighty important little discovery of his own |
CHRISTMAs, according to traditionary right, is made up of frost, perhaps snow ; turkeys, mince-pies, and burnt brandy so for a game of snapdragon' who'll play ?); consequently cannot consist with thunder and rotten humidity, which sours your turkey, makes limp the puff-paste, and turns the oily cogniac from a privileged luxury, into an obvious necessary ! This is what valetudinarians call fine open weather. I love to hear the roads ring like iron to the trotting hoofs; to listen to the heavy shoes of the rustic, who thumps his hollow shoulders with tingling hands. Then is the time for toasted cheese, for spiced ale, for the partmg glass of hot elder wine, which gives the bed-ward shiverer a few minutes more reprieve ere he launches into the bleak atmosphere of unwarmed corridors; – then are sprats eaten, and
salloped oysters;–virtuous dames knit red worsted nets for their husbands' throats; chairs are drawn round the fire after dinner, and travelers twine hay-bands round their stirrup-irons. Mouths smoke, and chimney-pots, –another blanket is put on Mr. B.'s bed, “who could not sleep a wink for the cold all last night.” The coats of horses stare, and the gardener mats carefully his forcing frames —
The bellman's drowsy charm
The village fidler scrapes with cheerful discord for his Christmasbox.-Through the gaping embrasures of Fort C–d the wind cuts shrilly; the turbid billows break with watery roar on the Goodwins, and
the wild blast sweeps mightily, raging over Stanmore waste.—But now
The winds have suck'd up from the sea Contagious fogs; which falling in the land Have every pelting river made so proud, That they have overborne their continents; + + - + + o * The fold stands empty in the drowned field, The crows are fatted with the murrain'd
flock; The nine-men's morris is fill'd up with mud; And the quaint mazes in the wanton green For lack of tread, are undistinguishable; The human mortals want their win TER here 1
No night is now with hymn or carol blest;
- DRu RY L.A.N. e.
We are not aware of any novelties having appeared at this ill-directed place, except De Montfort, and the feminine debút to be noted below. * The splendid Coronation’ has ceased to draw, and Mr. Kean has been forced into double harness with it, which at first we believe he declined. The treasury, however, was not much the better, and orders to welldressed people for the dress circle are said to have been issued plentifully. Still we do not credit the vulgar notion, that Kean's day is over, that his trick is found out, &c.; but rather attribute the continued depression to a parsimony behind the scenes, which refuses to grant salaries in any way adequate to very moderate abilities. t A play cannot now be
* At the time I write, I have an evening primrose to my nose; the strawberry plants are in bloom ; violets were gathered a week ago of full perfume; gooseberry bushes and honeysuckles are covered with bursting leaflets; and the sparrows, poor fools?
are building their nests.-Dec. 19.
+ It is rumoured that the munificence of the person appointed to treat with performers
offered Mr. D
n, the justly celebrated Comedian, four pounds per week " '